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TUC analysis shows women account for 52% of job losses during the pandemic so far, in large part due to the sectors they work in.
While headline empoloyment figures for women in the pandemic may look more stable, in reality women have seen a much higher level of redundancy than in previous crises and are working in sectors that are particularly exposed to the economic impact of the pandemic, according to an analysis by the TUC.
The analysis shows that, while job losses have been fairly evenly spread, women have accounted for 52 per cent of job losses and men 48 per cent. This contrasts to previous recessions where men saw a bigger impact generally.
Looking at redundancies, it shows these hit a peak of over 395,000 redundancies in September to November 2020, with 178,000 women being made redundant and 217,000 men. This was higher than the peak of redundancies in the 2009 financial crisis, but for women it was significantly higher (76 per cent higher compared to 3 per cent higher for men who were most affected by the 2009 crisis). Moreover, the current level of redundancies for women continues to remain close to the levels seen in the financial crisis (just over 93,000 versus over 100,000 in the financial crisis).
A large part of the reason is the sectors women work in. Women have accounted for 60 per cent of the job losses in accommodation and food and 58 per cent of job losses in wholesale and retail, says the TUC, whereas in manufacturing men accounted for nearly 80 per cent of job losses.
Moreover, latest furlough data to the end of February shows that young people and young women in particular are more likely to be furloughed than any other age group. Furlough rates amongst women and men under 18 are 39 per cent and 28 per cent respectively. For 18–24-year-old women and men they are at 22 per cent and 19 per cent respectively. The average for women and men overall is 15 per cent for women and 14 per cent for men. There is significant concern that women’s employment will be more affected when the furlough scheme comes to an end.
The TUC is asking for sector specific support, including a national recovery council; more investment in green jobs and caring; an increase in the minimum wage to 10 pounds an hour; the reform of Universal Credit; and a rise in sick pay as wll as a day one right to flexible working; a ban on zero hours jobs and 10 days’ paid carers’ leave.
Meanwhile, analysis by the Social Market Foundation shows that low-income workers who are offered the chance to own shares in the companies they work for are typically £10,000 better off than workers on a similar salary.
Under current tax rules, companies are currently able to offer employees a limited number of shares either free or for purchase well below market prices. Over 14,000 companies in the UK operate some form of tax-advantaged employee share ownership plan, including BT, Tesco, Whitbread, and Greggs.
The report found that among the lowest earning 25% of workers, those in their employer’s share ownership scheme were on average £10,900 wealthier than those without access to these schemes. The think-tank is urging ministers to do more to encourage companies to offer share ownership schemes and is calling on the government to launch a new employee ownership commission to promote them.