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Addressing the career break penalty for women could deliver gains of £1.7 billion to the UK economy and see women’s wages rise by around £4K a year, according to a report by Pwc.
The report, Women returners, says around 427,000 female professionals, including directors, engineers, scientists, researchers, doctors, lawyers and accountants, who are currently on career break want to return to the workforce in the future.
It states that three in five professional women (or around 249,000) returning to the workforce are likely to move into lower-skilled or lower-paid roles, experiencing an immediate earnings reduction of up to a third.
Some 29,000 women who return to the workforce on a part-time basis will be underemployed, meaning that they would prefer to work more hours if flexible working opportunities were made more widely available, says the report.
That means two-thirds of (or around 278,000) professional women could be working below their potential when they return to the workforce and it works out that addressing the career break penalty could boost female earnings by £1.1 billion annually, equivalent to £4,000 per woman. It finds that the multiplier effect from the higher earnings and spending power of these women generates additional gains to the UK economy of £1.7 billion.
The report calls for businesses to take action to support women returners, including combating a negative bias towards CV gaps, increasing the availability of part-time and flexible opportunities and helping women transition back to work.