UK’s female part-time workforce pays price for caring

The
UK has one of the highest rates of part-time work in Europe and a very wide gap
between the pay of women who work part-time and men who work full-time,
according to a new report.

The
Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) and the DTI’s Women and Equality Unit’s
Advancing Women in the Workplace: statistical analysis, shows that women are
still at a significant disadvantage in the workplace in the UK and across
Europe. It also reveals that in the UK in 2001, 24 per cent of all workers (6.6
million people) worked part-time – the second-highest percentage in Europe
after The Netherlands (42 per cent). The European average is 18 per cent.

The
majority of part-time workers are women (81 per cent across Europe, 82 per cent
in the UK). In 2003, women working part-time earned just 60 per cent of the
average hourly rate of men who worked full-time.

Commenting
on the study, Julie Mellor, chair of the EOC, said: "The most common
reason for working part-time is the time spent caring for a child or adult. And
it is clear that women in the UK are still paying a high price for taking on
these caring responsibilities. The average woman working part-time earns 40 per
cent less for every hour she works than a man working full-time.

"The
gap between the pay of part-time and full-time workers can partly be explained
by the unwillingness of some employers to allow women in senior positions to
work part-time. This means some women end up taking jobs lower down the ladder
than where they were before having children, and their employers lose out on
the valuable skills and experience they have acquired.

"A
more positive attitude toward part-time and flexible work arrangements at all
levels would help close the gap between women’s and men’s pay as well as
helping companies retain staff and save millions in recruitment and training
costs as a result."

By Quentin Reade

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