Women 7 times more likely to be out of work due to caring commitments: TUC finds

The analysis of official statistics – published at the annual Trades Union Congress women’s conference (8 March) – finds that more than 1.46 million women are unable to work alongside their family commitments, compared to around 230,000 men.

  • New TUC analysis finds more than 1.46 million women are kept out of the labour market because of their caring responsibilities
  • One in 10 women their 30s drop out of the jobs market because of pressures of looking after their family
  • Union body calls for funded childcare and flexible working rights for all to keep women in work and to address the gender pay gap

Women are also around seven times more likely than men to be out of the labour market due to caring commitments.

Women in their 30s are the hardest hit, as one in 10 – more than 450,000 women – is out of the labour market because of caring responsibilities – compared to just one in 100 men in their 30s.

The TUC highlight that this points to a larger issue, and that women, at every age, from the beginning of their careers are more likely than men to have to drop out of paid work because of caring commitments.

The TUC says that this illustrates that high-quality childcare that is free at the point of use should be available for all parents from the end of maternity leave to the end of primary school. This would help women stay in their jobs and continue with their careers once they have children.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said: “The TUC’s report shows that more and more women are being forced out of work due to the high childcare fees.

“Nurseries and other childcare providers are forced to put up their fees because they deliver funded childcare places on behalf of the Government but are not paid enough to cover their costs. The UK is among one of the lowest contributors to childcare in OECD countries, and consequently parents pay among the highest fees.

“Not only is it in the interests of all children for them to receive high quality early education and care to achieve the best outcomes, but if the Government invested sufficiently in childcare, it would enable thousands of parents to join the workforce and boost the economy.

“The current policy of underfunding makes no financial or moral sense. This is why the Government must make early education a priority in the Spring Budget for investment.”

In terms of pay, the research also found that women make up two-thirds (65%) of the 10 lowest-paid occupations in the UK. But less than two in five (39%) women are working in the 10 highest-paid occupations, in industries like finance, law and IT. It will take until 2044 to achieve pay parity between men and women.

The TUC are also saying that working mums aren’t receiving the working flexibility they require at work and is calling on the Government to act to keep women in work, make sure they are paid fairly, and to properly address the gender pay gap.

Actions include:

  • Introducing funded, high-quality childcare, available to all, free at the point of use. This would begin when paid maternity ends.
  • Create greater flexibility in all jobs
  • Strengthen gender pay gap reporting
  • Fixing the staffing crisis in social care

Read the full TUC report here

  • England
  • Scotland
  • UK
  • Wales
  • Flexible childcare
  • OECD
  • TUC
  • Women in the Labour Market

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