Family Life and Work

Family Life and Work

Family Life and Work

Patterns of work and caring are changing for women, who are entering the workplace in larger numbers than ever before. But the experience of too many women at work is one of low pay, unequal pay or discrimination. Women are the majority of the lowest paid and are still under-represented in senior positions.

Motherhood, in particular, has a direct and dramatic influence on women’s employment prospects and pay which typically lasts a lifetime. Many women return to work part-time after having children, but most part-time work is characterised by low pay with few prospects for training and promotion. The pay gap, combined with dramatically different leave entitlements for mothers and fathers when a child is born (one year for the mother, two weeks for the father) means that in most cases women continue to be primary carers for children. There is little support or encouragement for men to spend more time caring. This is bad for both fathers and children who would benefit if care was shared more equally.

The Children and Families Act, which introduced a shared parental leave system and extended the right to request flexible working to all employees, was passed through Parliament in 2014. We believe that these reforms will help act as a driver for the culture change needed to afford women real choice about their work and caring arrangements, and to dismantle gendered attitudes and end discrimination against women in the workplace.

Fawcett briefing on the Bill