Two in five women over 50 want fewer hours at work

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date: 14 March 2013

embargo: 00.01hrs Friday 15 March 2013

More than two in five women workers over 50 want fewer hours in their current job, according to a new TUC analysis published today (Friday) to mark the final day of TUC Women's Conference.

While the recession has been characterised by rising under-employment - people doing part-time jobs but wanting full-time work or more hours in their current job -the TUC analysis of official statistics shows that too many hours is also a big issue, particularly for older women.

Around two in five women (40.1 per cent) aged 50-64 say they want fewer hours in their current job. This rate falls for women aged 20-34, three in ten (30.3 per cent) of whom want less hours.

The fact that so many women are unable to work fewer hours in their current job shows that the widespread demand for more flexible work is not being met, says the TUC.

The TUC believes that the desire to work fewer hours is greater for women over 50 as many have to balance work with looking after grandchildren, parents or children of their own.

Too many people wanting fewer hours at work have to move into low-paid part-time jobs, rather than working fewer or more flexible hours with their current employer, says the TUC.

While nearly half of all women over 50 have part-time jobs, much of the work is very low paid. The majority of women over 50 in part-time work earn less than £10,000 a year.

The analysis shows that women over 50 are most likely to want fewer hours at work in the South East (50.5 per cent want fewer hours), and are least likely to in Northern Ireland (28.9 per cent).

Some women are managing to reduce their hours, says the TUC, as the average number of hours worked per week falls from 33.1 hours for 50-54 year olds to 26.7 hours for 60-64 year olds.

The analysis is the latest in a series of reports for the TUC's Age Immaterial campaign which focuses on issues facing women over 50 at work. Recent TUC research found that the gender pay gap is twice as high for women over 50 (18.4 per cent, compared to 9.6 per cent for all workers).

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said: 'While under-employment is a big issue for many workers today, there are millions of people that actually want fewer hours at work.

'The need to work fewer hours is particularly acute for the millions of women over 50 who have to balance work with multiple caring responsibilities.

'Unfortunately too many employers don't recognise any caring roles beyond motherhood, forcing many older women to trade down jobs in order to look after grandchildren, older kids or their own parents.

'As the population ages and people are expected to work for longer, the caring demands on women over 50 in work are only going to increase. Helping the two in five women over 50 who want fewer hours in their job is vital to meeting this demand.

'Providing more high quality flexible and part-time work will help more women over 50 to look after loved ones while continuing their careers. Employers would also benefit by holding on to talented and experienced staff.

'The government can play its part too by providing stronger flexible working rights, particularly for those caring for parents and grandkids.'

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Female employees wanting fewer hours at work, by age

Age

Want fewer hours (number)

Want fewer hours (percent)

20-34

962,920

30.3

35-49

1,434,986

39.1

50-64

1,068,973

40.1

All ages 16-70+

3,553,254

35.1

Female employees, aged 50-64, wanting fewer hours at work, by region

Region

Want fewer hours (number)

Want fewer hours (percent)

North East

37,324

33.9

North West

120,330

39.2

Yorkshire and Humber

84,925

38.5

East Midlands

83,831

44.9

West Midlands

90,188

39.6

Eastern England

119,310

43.6

London

107,116

42.5

South East

172,518

50.5

South West

94,918

39.3

Wales

38,609

32.0

Scotland

97,997

38.3

Northern Ireland

22,177

28.9

UK

1,068,973

40.1

Source: Labour Force Survey Autumn 2012

- The latest TUC report Older women and the labour market is available at www.tuc.org.uk/tucfiles/550/Olderwomenlabourmarket.pdf

- Further information about the Age Immaterial is available at www.ageimmaterial.org, which can also be followed on Twitter: @ageimmaterial

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

- Follow the TUC on Twitter: @tucnews

Contacts:

Media enquiries:
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: [email protected]
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: [email protected]
Alex Rossiter T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07887 572130 E: [email protected]

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