Issue date
11 Mar 2018

On Mother’s Day (Sunday) the TUC is celebrating the contribution mums make to the economy and society.

There are currently 12.4 million women employees in the UK. But although they now make up half (49.7%) of the workforce, women still encounter far too many problems at work.

Women are still far more likely than men to undertake the vast majority of unpaid work, including childcare. They are also far less likely to be able to access better-paid jobs and ongoing opportunities for career progression:

  1. The gender pay gap: The current gender pay gap means that on average women get paid 18.4% less than men. The TUC has calculated this pay gap means that women effectively work for free for more than two months (67 days) of the year.
  2. Pregnancy discrimination: The EHRC found that 6 in 10 (59%) employers believe job applicants should have to disclose whether they are pregnant. And almost half (46%) of bosses agree it is reasonable to ask women if they have young children during the recruitment process – despite this practice being against the law.
  3. The motherhood pay penalty: For women who become mothers, the gender pay gap gets worse. Those who have children before the age of 33 earn 15% less than similar women who haven’t had children.
  4. The cost of childcare: TUC research found the cost of childcare has gone up four times faster than wages since 2008. In England the average wages of those with a one-year-old child rose by 12% in cash terms – although pay is still falling in real terms – between 2008 and 2016. However, over the same period, childcare costs shot up by 48%.
  5. Pension pot: Because of low pay, 3.4 million women workers are excluded from workplace pensions. The TUC found women make up three quarters of those earning less than the £10,000 earnings trigger to be automatically enrolled into a pension.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Today we celebrate the huge contribution mums make to our society, both at home and at work.

“But the sad truth is that millions of mums are trapped in low-paid part-time or insecure jobs, barely breaking even once they’ve paid for childcare.

“Without better-paid part-time and flexible jobs, and higher wages in key sectors like care, mums will continue having to choose between career and family. We need more dads to share the childcare, and more employers running family friendly workplaces. And it’s time to get tough with bosses who are still cheating women workers out of the equal pay they’re due.”

Editors note

- For full details of the statistics included in this press release please visit the following links:
1. The gender pay gap
2. Pregnancy discrimination
3. The motherhood pay penalty
4. The cost of childcare
5. Pension pot
- There are 27.2 million employees in the UK labour market: 12.4 million women employees and 13.8 million men employees. Source: ONS table EMP09. Data for Oct-Dec 2017 (published 21 Feb 2018).
- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 49 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.