More hours, less support for UK’s working women

British women work more hours than their European counterparts, but are not
supported by such generous social welfare schemes, according to research.

The Working Women study shows that UK women in full-time jobs work an
average of nearly 41 hours per week compared with 39 in France and 36 in Italy.
The EU average is 39 hours.

The number of UK women who do not work because of family responsibilities is
higher than in Scandinavia, Germany, Austria and France.

The report suggests that in spite of the extension of maternity and
paternity leave announced this year, the UK still provides less support for
working parents than other EU counties.

Hugh Bessant, managing director of research company Key Note, and author of
the report, said, "New increases in maternity leave, maternity pay and
children’s and childcare tax credits are signalling a more regulated and
supported social framework for women to balance family and employment duties.

"However, these measures still have to take full effect. Our research
shows that working women suffer a real ‘time famine’ and are under far more
stress, in particular professional AB women with children."

The number of women in employment in the UK has risen from 11.4 million in
1997 to 13.1 million in 2001.

The gulf between men and women’s earnings is wider in Britain than anywhere
else in Europe, with British women earning only 80 per cent of the wages of
their male colleagues, claims the research.

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