Mothers suffer part-time pay penalty
“Research highlights a ‘striking’ issue with part-time work in general, with workers typically missing out on year-on-year pay rises and promotions
Mothers in part-time jobs suffer particularly from the gender ‘pay penalty’, according to research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Its study Wage progression and the gender wage gap: the causal impact of hours of work was compiled on behalf of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and explored the reasons for the gender pay gap still standing at around 20%. While it found many reasons for the scale and persistence of this gap, it stated that an important factor is that mothers spend less time in paid work, and more time working part time, than fathers.
‘About a quarter of [the] wage gap is explained by the higher propensity of the mothers to have been in part-time rather than full-time paid work while that child was growing up, and the consequent lack of wage progression,’ the report stated.
The research therefore highlighted a ‘striking’ issue generally with part-time work, with these workers typically missing out on year-on-year pay rises and promotion opportunities. It emphasised that this affects women disproportionately because the vast majority of part-time workers are women, especially mothers of young children.
About a further tenth of this pay penalty is explained by mothers’ higher propensity to have taken time out of the labour market altogether, the study added. It stated that 20 years after the birth of their first child, a woman’s hourly wage will be on average 30% lower than the hourly wage of a man with a similar level of education.
The penalty particularly affects graduates ‘because they are the women for whom continuing in full-time paid work would have led to the most wage progression,’ the report found.
It cited the example of a graduate who has worked full-time for seven years before having a child. She would on average see her hourly wage rise by a further 6% (over and above general wage inflation) as a result of continuing in full-time work for another year. But she would see none of this if she switched to part-time work.
“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,” said Monica Costa Dias, IFS associate director and an author of the report.
“It is remarkable that periods spent in part-time work lead to virtually no wage progression. 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.”
I find it fascinating that in certain parts of the market, there is still the view that somehow part time workers are not as valuable as full time employees. Flexible working offers so many advantages to all parties. Throughout my time in recruitment I have seen many examples where employers have struggled to fill a vacancy with the right level of candidate due to budget issues, however have been reluctant to think flexibly. The smart employer however is looking at their 40k budget and thinking maybe if I got a 50k(FTE) candidate working 4 days a week it would be a better use of these funds.
From a HR/Resourcing point of view we need to recognise the quality of candidates available to take up flexible opportunities and use this talent pool for commercial advantage whilst making sure in return that fair pay and career development opportunities are available. This article is specifically talking about those looking flexible for child care reasons, however there have many shifts in attitudes towards work and I don’t think it will be long before most people have an expectation to some kind of flexible/smart working practice.
Now is the time to start having flexibility at the heart of your Resourcing strategy!