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It’s International Women’s Day, and we’re talking about the gender pay gap, childcare costs and the ‘Motherhood Penalty’

international womens day

Today people worldwide are celebrating womens achievements and campaigning for gender equality.

Back in 2017, gender pay gap reporting regulations required employers to make public any pay differences (including bonus pay) between men and women.

Per the last Office of National Statistics report, which was released in October of 2019, the gender pay gap among full time employees stands at 8.9%

To put that in real terms, the average UK Salary is about 30,000. And 8.9% of 30,000 is 2,670.

Think about what 2,670 a year could buy you? For young women in work that could be a vital boost towards saving towards a mortgage, buying a car or even towards childcare costs.

The Independent reported in October of 2019 that almost a fifth of parents have been forced into quitting their jobs due to punitive childcare costs.

The researchers found that its predominantly women who bear the cost of childcare and this exacerbates the gender pay gap. This effect has been named the ‘Motherhood Penalty’.

The Employee Benefits website reported that after having children, over two fifths of women reduced their hours, more than a third left work completely and over one in ten returned to work in a lower paid role. For those women that left the workplace altogether, 43% reasoned that it didn’t make sense financially to continue to work whilst paying childcare costs, and 29% said they simply couldn’t afford childcare. It’s no wonder per The Womens’ Equality Party, single parents often spend half their take home pay on childcare costs.

In order to narrow, and hopefully eliminate the gender pay gap its clear that solving the issue of extortionate childcare is vital. The question is how?

After years of austerity, council budgets have been slashed. With the investment needed in social care, housing, mental health support and many other areas, its unrealistic to believe the government will prioritise subsidising childcare to the extent needed to fully support women back into the workplace.

Until we can rely on a socialised childcare system, it may well be up to the private sector to work towards a solution. Some of the things that a business can do to really support women in this area include;

  • Flexible working hours
  • Work from home options
  • Increased parental leave, including Paternity leave
  • For very large companies, company nurseries

The fantastic thing about our industry, accounting and bookkeeping, is that we now have all the tools we need to provide these flexible, work from home options.

With the rise of cloud accounting packages like Xero, it really is possible to work from anywhere with a laptop and an internet connection. And as soon as you tie in software like Accountancy Manager, Slack and Harvest, you can remotely plan, communicate and track your time. So, whats holding you back from offering flexible work from home to your staff? Or are you ahead of the curve and already doing it? Even if you don’t have staff members with childcare requirements, getting ahead of the curve with flexible working is contributing to a society where it’s more acceptable. And you can be part of the change.