Part time work and career breaks are a fundamental driver of gender pay gap

gender pay gapParents are being hit by a “pay penalty” if they work in part-time jobs, according to a new study from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The report found that mothers in particular tend to spend more time in part-time employment, so they do not benefit from pay rises associated with more experience, research found. By the time a first child reaches the age of 20, mothers earn around 30 percent less on average than similarly educated fathers, said the report, and the issue is a fundamental driver of the gender pay gap.

The overall gender pay gap has fallen from 28 percent to 18 percent since the early 1990s for the less well educated, but has remained at 22 percent for the highest educated, the study claims.
Monica Costa Dias, IFS associate director, said: “There are many likely reasons for persistent gaps in the wages of men and women which research is still investigating, but the fact that working part-time has a long-term depressing effect is an important contributing factor. “It is remarkable that periods spent in part-time work lead to virtually no wage progression at all. It should be a priority for governments and others to understand the reasons for this. Addressing it would have the potential to narrow the gender wage gap significantly.”

Robert Joyce, IFS associate director, added: “It is now the highest-educated women whose wages are the furthest behind their male counterparts, and this is particularly related to the fact that they lose out so badly from working part-time.”

Helen Barnard, head of analysis at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “It’s just not right that we treat part-time workers as if they are less valuable than full-timers. The majority of women working part-time are mothers, who often work part-time so that they can also take care of children or other adults. But they pay a heavy price for trying to balance these two roles. The poverty rate for part-time workers is double that for full-time workers.

“We can do something about this and redesign the jobs market so it works for everyone. Employers can make that happen by increasing the number and quality of jobs that are open to part-time workers – and hire flexibly rather than only allowing existing employees to negotiate part-time