Research shows why pay rates for mothers are less than for men
Women dent their promotion chances when they become mothers and that affects their future earning power, according to new research.
Time spent on maternity leave and reducing hours once they return to work means they gain less experience, which also holds them back and pushes down their pay rates.
The research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) shows that the wage gap between men and women gets wider in the years following childbirth.
Young women with no children earn on average 18% less per hour than men of similar age. That gap widens steadily after childbirth meaning that after 12 years, the difference in hourly pay rates between mothers and men of similar age is 33%.
Robert Joyce, one of the IFS report's authors, said the research showed that women didn't see an immediate cut in their hourly wages when they reduce their hours.
"Rather, women who work half-time lose out on subsequent wage progression, meaning that the hourly wages of men (and of women in full-time work) pull further and further ahead.
"In addition, women who take time out of paid work altogether and then return to the labour market miss out on wage growth.
"Comparing women who had the same hourly wage before leaving paid work, wages when they return are on average 2% lower for each year spent out of paid work in the interim.
"This apparent wage penalty for taking time out of paid work is greater for more highly educated women, at 4% for each year out of paid work.
"The lowest-educated women (who actually take more time out of paid work after childbirth) do not seem to pay this particular penalty, probably because they have less wage progression to miss out on."
Next year, employers with more than 250 staff will have to publish the number of men and women in each of their pay ranges, and show where the pay gaps are at their widest.
A government spokeswoman said: "The gender pay gap is the lowest on record but we know we need to make more progress and faster.
"That's why we are pushing ahead with plans to force businesses to publish their gender pay and gender bonus gap - shining a light on the barriers preventing women from reaching the top."
Not all differences in pay between men and women amount to discrimination, but it is against the law to pay women less than men for doing the same kind of work.
Please contact Jackie Cuneen if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.