Manchester law firm turner parkinson is warning that female redundancies are unlikely to decline as the economic downturn continues to claim ailing businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors.
A recent survey by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) revealed that women are being hit harder than ever during the latest downturn, as female redundancy rates increased by 2.3 per cent from January to September 2008; almost double the rate for males (1.2 per cent).
The latest figures come in scant contrast to previous downturns, when fewer females were in employment, and male dominated industries such as manufacturing and mining were the worst affected.
Now, however, many households rely on both a male and a female wage, with women earning more than men in a fifth of couples.
Sarah Turner, employment law partner at turner parkinson LLP, comments: “These latest figures reflect the great strides women have made in the UK jobs market over the last fifty years.
“Previous downturns have seen male-led industries suffer, leading women who hadn’t previously worked into jobs to supplement the family income. Now females are established in the UK jobs market, and both men and women are being made redundant as a variety of sectors are forced to make cost saving cutbacks.
In the current downturn, dubbed the ‘retail recession’ due to its disastrous impact on high street sales, many experts believe that female redundancy rates are unlikely to fall. Turner comments:
“The retail and hospitality sectors are really feeling the pinch, and forecasts suggest that female redundancies will continue long into 2009 as the UK’s consumer economy continues to weaken. As a result, it is essential that women are aware of their statutory rights and entitlements.
“In light of the economic climate, It is important for companies to be reasonable and open when making redundancies, and consult with their workforce.”
Many also believe that women could be denied access to jobs during the downturn. Turner says: “Recent years have brought a huge increase in family friendly rights available to employees such as enhanced maternity rights, flexible working and parental leave.
Many employers view these rights as a considerable expense and disruption to the business. Given that many still perceive women as the primary child carers, this may lead to women losing out to men on recruitment.
“The progress of equality at work could be jeopardised by the recession.“