Flexible working makes mums less likely to ask for a pay rise – poll


The majority of working mums say having flexible working makes them less likely to ask for a pay rise.

Some 65% of women said they would be or are less likely to ask for a pay rise. Twenty-one per cent said it wouldn’t and the remainder were not sure.

One woman who was unsure said: “Exploitative employers always seem to prefer those not asking for raise.”

The poll comes as interest over the gender pay gap increases as larger employers prepare for the first compulsory gender pay audits.

Recent research and surveys on the gender pay gap suggests the gap widens as women get older at a time when they are often taking on family responsibilities.

A Workingmums.co.uk poll in September found 78% of women have taken a pay cut to get more flexibility in their jobs after having children. For many, the pay cut was a result of going part time.

A study by the Institute of Fiscal Studies shows the gender pay gap widens consistently for 12 years after women have their first child. It says the widening of the hourly wage gap after childbirth is associated with reduced hours of paid work, but is not because women see an immediate cut in hourly pay when they reduce their hours. Rather, it says, women who work half-time lose out on subsequent wage progression, meaning that the hourly wages of men (and of women in full-time work) pull further and further ahead. In addition, women who take time out of paid work altogether and then return to the labour market miss out on wage growth.

But it may not be that women who work flexibly, particularly reduced hours, are just missing out on pay rises because of lack of career progression.

A recent report by Heejung Chung from the University of Kent suggested flexible working may be increasing the gender pay gap. She found full-time working women do as many overtime hours as men when working flexibly, even when they are mothers. However, they do not get paid for them.  She said: “Employers tend to believe that women use flexibility mainly for family-friendly purposes, which results in women not being rewarded in the same way as men when using flexibility – regardless of the increase in their devotion to work they exhibit. So an increase in flexibility at work may lead to the enforcement of traditional gender roles and increase the gender gap.”

Moreover, research by Cass Business School and the universities of Warwick and Wisconsin on the gender pay gap found that women were no less likely to ask for a pay rise than men, but were less likely to get one. However, the researchers said they had had to adjust their statistics for the number of hours worked because part-time workers felt hesitant to ‘ask’ for a rise.

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