Working mums face big pay penalty for the rest of their working life

Childbirth marks the start of a great divide in pay equality between men and women which continues even after children have left home, says a new report by the Fawcett Society.

Childbirth marks the start of a great divide in pay equality between men and women which continues even after children have left home, says a new report by the Fawcett Society.
The report, ‘Not having it all: How motherhood reduces women’s pay and employment prospects’ , finds that even women working full time who have two children are paid 21.6% less than men. This compares with women with no children who are paid 9% less than men.
The report also states that pregnancy makes women particularly vulnerable to discrimination in the workplace, citing a marked increase in the number of women seeking help because they feel they have suffered discrimination as a result of being pregnant.
The Fawcett Society wants to see new policy responses to reduce the impact of motherhood on a woman’s earnings. Four priority areas emerge from the report:

1.        Provide mothers with the support they need to return to jobs at their previous skills levels
2.        Enforce and extend the law to protect pregnant women and women on maternity leave
3.        Create substantially more part-time work in higher paid occupations
4.        Tackle the low pay that exists in sectors primarily employing women.

Dr Katherine Rake, Director of the Fawcett Society commented: "The choice of whether and when to return to employment is of course a very personal one. However, it is critical that those mothers who choose or need to be in paid work should be able to do so without suffering a pay penalty.
"These findings will have particular pertinence in the run up to the school holidays when mothers are often facing the biggest challenge in trying to combine employment and child care. The report shows that women are nine times as likely as fathers to arrange not to work during school holidays.
"All the evidence gathered for this report shows that mothers are faced with impossible choices . To find jobs that are compatible with childcare, they have to make major compromises, trading down their careers so that they can meet their children’s needs. The challenge now for government is to support mothers to maintain their position in the workforce and achieve the family life that they want."

Full report
Opinion piece: Equal pay for equal experience

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