A rigid workplace culture is making it difficult for older women to balance their careers with caring responsibilities, leading to decades of low pay at the end of their working lives and poverty in retirement, a TUC report warns today (Thursday).
The final report of the TUC’s investigation into issues facing women over 50 at work has found that while a record number of older women are in work, many are trapped in low-paid jobs and are struggling to balance caring responsibilities with work.
The report finds:
The complex and often multiple caring responsibilities faced by women over 50 – and a failure by many employers to help them balance work with their other responsibilities – make it particularly difficult for them to continue their careers whilst caring for loved ones, says the TUC.
The TUC report calls on employers to have a more enlightened attitude to these caring responsibilities, which needs to be underpinned by new employment rights. The report calls for the introduction of several new rights, including:
The TUC also wants employers to advertise all jobs on a flexible basis so the ability to work flexibly isn’t limited to those who want to stay in their current job. The public sector should take the lead in embracing this modern recruitment practice, says the TUC.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Women in their 50s are the first generation of women to have been protected by equal pay and sex discrimination laws throughout their careers. They were also the first women to have access to paid maternity leave, though many struggled on their return to work as few employers offered flexible working.
“Despite these huge strides, women over 50 are paid a fifth less per hour than men, and many are trapped in low-paid work, with an ever-longer wait for their retirement. This generation of women has been let down.
“We need a radical rethink of our workplace culture, which is ill-equipped to cope with the complex work and caring roles that many older women face. New rights to carers leave and adjustment leave to help them cope with sudden emergencies would make a huge difference to women’s working lives, and would also enable employers to keep hold of experienced and often highly qualified staff.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- The final report of the Age Immaterial campaign is available at www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/Age_Immaterial_Women_Over_50_Report_2014_LR.pdf
- The OBR forecast for public sector employment was analysed recently by the Institute for Fiscal Studies in their public sector workforce briefing. It is available at www.ifs.org.uk/bns/bn145.pdf.
- The TUC is organising Fair Pay Fortnight from Monday 24 March to Sunday 6 April. It will be a series of events across England and Wales to raise awareness about falling living standards. www.fairpayfortnight.org
- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
- Follow the TUC on Twitter: @tucnews
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