Rigid workplace culture is stopping women over 50 from being able to balance jobs with family, report warns
Paul Gallagher is a reporter for the Independent and Independent on Sunday having joined the group in 2012. He has previously worked for the European Voice, Daily Mirror and the Observer and been based in Brussels, Belfast, Tokyo and London.
Thursday 27 February 2014
Women aged above 50 are being prevented from furthering their careers due to rigid workplace culture which leaves many unable to balance their jobs with their family, a new report warns today.
The TUC’s investigation into issues facing older women shows that the problem leads to decades of low pay at the end of their working lives and poverty in retirement. Their research found that women over 50 suffered not only the biggest pay penalty but also that their caring responsibilities increased with age and that they felt more at risk from ongoing public sector cuts, especially as the public sector is predicted to lose 1.1 million jobs by 2019.
The gender pay gap for this age group working full-time is twice as high as it is for younger women. Nearly half of women over 50 are in part-time work, where the average annual wage is under £10,000 a year.
With an ageing population, almost half (49 per cent) of women care for at least one of their parents while two in five (39 per cent) are caring for their own children. The report also found one in five (21 per cent) look after their grandchildren while many other women (13 per cent) also care for another elderly relative (13 per cent) or a disabled husband, wife or partner (nine per cent).
The TUC report concludes by calling for the Government to introduction new employment rights, including five to 10 days of paid carers’ leave per year, an unpaid leave entitlement, similar to parental leave, specifically for grandparents, and a period of statutory adjustment leave for sudden changes to caring responsibilities and crisis situations.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Women in their 50s are the first generation of women to have been protected by equal pay and sex discrimination laws throughout their careers. They were also the first women to have access to paid maternity leave, though many struggled on their return to work as few employers offered flexible working.
“Despite these huge strides, women over 50 are paid a fifth less per hour than men, and many are trapped in low-paid work, with an ever-longer wait for their retirement. We need a radical rethink of our workplace culture, which is ill-equipped to cope with the complex work and caring roles that many older women face.”
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