Women who Become Mothers Before 33 are Paid 15% Less

That is according to a report from the Trades Union Congress (TUC), who cite the fact that younger mothers haven’t had the opportunity to establish themselves in more senior positions, is making it far more difficult to do so upon their return to work. In some cases this destroys their ability to advance their careers, or at the bare minimum will significantly derail their chances.

Further to this already damning statistic, a report released in April by the Institute for Public Policy Research has revealed that the soaring costs of childcare effectively mean parents are having to “pay to work”. This is especially prevalent in London, where high childcare costs and a complex labour market conspire to create a particular set of unmet challenges.

At a glance:

– Affordability: Childcare costs in London are 33% higher than the UK average, choking low earners and diminishing family incomes.

– Inequity: children from underprivileged families are not getting the early education and quality support they need, especially those with special needs.

– Undersupply: 70% of London boroughs do not have enough childcare services available for working parents.

The combination of these facts means that London has lowest maternal employment of any region on the UK, with only 61% of mothers in work. A seriously alarming statistic. Speaking on the revelation of their report, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“This research shows that millions of mothers still suffer the motherhood pay penalty. We need to do far more to support all working mums, starting by increasing the number of quality part-time jobs and making childcare much more affordable.

“Women in full-time, well-paid jobs shouldn’t be the only ones able to both become parents and see their careers progress. All women worried about their pay and conditions should join a union to get their voices heard and their interests represented.”

Giving young mothers a platform to get their concerns addressed should surely be of paramount importance to our society. After all, they are bearing the responsibility of raising the next generations, and with next to no support. And no money. However, if the ethical reasons for rising to these challenges isn’t enough, the IPPR report also looks at it from an economic standpoint:

If the maternal employment rate in London rose to meet the current UK average (moving from 61 to 69 per cent of mothers in work), 80,000 more mothers would be in work. Modelling by IPPR shows that this would result in a net gain of £90 million to the Exchequer, due to net savings from increased tax receipts and reduced benefit spending. Furthermore, 2,200 households in the capital would be lifted out of poverty.

As well as reducing poverty and benefitting the public finances, increasing the maternal employment rate in London would contribute significantly to economic growth. If London improved rates of female employment and also increased the number of hours worked by women already in work as quickly as the best performing regions in the UK, the capital would see potential increases in annual GVA of £21.5 billion by 2025 (4.6 per cent).

There really is no argument to be made here. We need to be supporting the choices of young mothers, and, as a society, improving support for raising children not only in London, but UK wide.

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