It is no secret that women earn tend to earn less than men; however, women who return to work after having a baby earn even less than their male colleagues for many years afterwards, according to a recent report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
A report by the Chartered Management Institute and XpertHR found that the gender pay gap not only means that men and women being paid differently for doing the same job, but also there being a number of men higher up within an organisation.
Women tend to earn on average 18% less per hour than their male colleagues – however women who take maternity leave find that over the following 12 years, their hourly pay rate falls 33% behind men’s. Following their return to work, women miss out on promotions and subsequently accrue less experience than men, with men being 40% more likely than previously-pregnant women to be promoted into management roles.
Many women are also forced to leave better-paid jobs due to the pressure of caring responsibilities and the lack of flexible working.
Citizens Advice have also reported that new and expectant mothers are experiencing increasing levels of unfair treatment at work, such as being made redundant or having their hours reduced when they take maternity leave.
The charity said the number of women seeking its advice after experiencing a cut in hours, being put on a zero-hours contract or being forced out of their job after becoming pregnant had risen by nearly 60 per cent in the past year.
It is unlawful for women to be treated less favourably because of pregnancy, and redundancy during or following maternity leave is only permissible in a genuine situation – which is rarely encountered.
Research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found that three in four mother or 77 per cent have faced a negative or discriminatory experience directly before, during or after maternity leave, with around 54,000 women are forced out of their jobs due to pregnancy every year in the UK.
Women’s right groups are working on finding new ways to challenge this negative narrative, as well as helping to empower women to challenge discriminatory behaviour. Many also hope to see a rise in paternity leave, thereby creating a society where the role of childcare is not assumed to rest with women.