Home News & eventsNews The Gender Pay Gap: Working Families responds to Women and Equalities Select Committee report

The Gender Pay Gap: Working Families responds to Women and Equalities Select Committee report

Published: 22 Mar 2016

The House of Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee has today published a report on the Gender Pay Gap. The Committee has identified caring responsibilities as one of the root causes of the persistent difference in pay between men and women over 40 which without action now will continue to blight the economy and the opportunities of future generations.

The Committee’s recommendations include:

• A new right for fathers to three months of non-transferable, paid paternity leave;
• Employers moving to a ‘flexible by default’ approach to all recruitment;
• All parental leave to be available on a part-time basis; and
• A new right to six weeks leave to deal with family emergencies without losing your job.

Sarah Jackson OBE, Chief Executive of Working Families [1] said:

“The gender pay gap remains a stubborn reality. We need the radical solutions the Committee proposes if we’re going to change things for the next generation of mothers and fathers.

“The ‘motherhood penalty’ is a price that women continue to pay at work and at home. The answer lies with fathers. A decent period of paid paternity leave would allow more fathers to care for their young children – and push this out of the domain of ‘women’s work’ for good [2].”

Turning to the Committee’s other recommendations, Sarah said:

“More than half of working mothers think about childcare before applying for a new job or a promotion [3]; 1.5 million people are currently trapped in low paid, part time jobs below their skill/salary level because suitable flexible opportunities are not available[4]. Recruitment must be turned on its head: all employers should be advertising jobs flexibly unless there’s a real reason why this can’t happen – rather than the other way around. Working Families has developed a ‘happy to talk flexible working’ strapline for employers to use when they advertise vacancies to signal that they are open to applicants working flexibly [5].

“The option to take parental leave part-time would make it a realistic opportunity for many low-paid fathers to do so, who would otherwise find it impossible to make ends meet on statutory pay alone.

“Eight out of ten unemployed parents of a disabled child gave up work at the time their child was diagnosed [6] – locking them out of the labour market for years. Allowing employees up to six weeks “adjustment” leave to adjust to life-changing circumstances without being lost to their employer makes good business and family sense.”

For further information, and interview requests, please email press@workingfamilies.org.uk or call 07715 651509.

Notes to editors

[1] Working Families is the UK’s leading work-life balance charity. We support and advocate on behalf of working parents and carers, and work with employers to create workplaces which encourage work-life balance for everyone. Working Families provides a range of advice for parents and carers, including on parental leave, paternity pay and negotiating flexible working.
[2] Working Families submitted written and oral evidence to the Women and Equalities select committee. We also worked with global management consultants Oliver Wyman to model the cost to the Exchequer of implementing the Committee’s model of paternity leave. We estimate that this would cost between £200m and £400m a year. Further details about the assumptions behind these figures are available in our written submission to the Committee.
[3] Figures taken from the Modern Families Index 2016, published by Working Families, with support from Bright Horizons, in January 2016.
[4] Figures taken from How flexible hiring could improve business performance and living standards, published by Timewise, in January 2016:
[5] Produced by a group chaired by Working Families for the DWP. Members included the CBI, the CIPD, EEF – The manufacturers organisation, the FSB, Timewise and the TUC.
[6] Figures taken from Off Balance, a survey of parents of disabled children published by Working Families in 2014