View from City Hall: More than half of the low-paid jobs in capital are held by women

News Desk (29 November, 2018) Columnists

It is not right or fair that low paid women with several jobs do not qualify for state pensions and that childbirth should mean a loss of pension contributions

9366Florence Eshalomi, London Assembly member for Southwark and Lambeth

Despite the Equal Pay Act in 1970, women still earn less than men in Britain today and the gender pay gap in London is widening, writes Florence Eshalomi, London Assembly Member for Southwark and Lambeth…

It currently stands at 19.9 per cent with the UK average sitting below this at 13.7 per cent Businesses in London must do better.

More than half of the low-paid jobs in the capital are held by women. There are a number of reasons for this, and a number of solutions.

Women are more likely to be in low-paid or part-time work largely due to childcare responsibilities as women are still more likely to be the primary care givers.

Trust for London found that 55 per cent of low paid jobs in the capital are held by women. One of the solutions to this is flexible working.

Timewise Flexible Jobs Index 2018 revealed that the proportion of quality jobs (paid £20k+ FTE) advertised with flexible working options is only 11 per cent.

This supply falls well short of the extremely high demand, with an estimated 87% of employees wanting to work flexibly.

Flexible working rights are essential to enabling women with children to participate in the workforce, and to support fathers to care.

I believe that all employers and businesses in London should be encouraged to advertise all job roles as ‘flexible’ by default, unless there is a strong business case not to do so.

The Fawcett Society found that the pay gap varies across the life course. It is at its lowest for women aged 18-21 at 5.1 per cent and widens significantly for women in their fifties to 19.4 per cent Shockingly, the gender pay gap also continues and worsens into our pensions.

The pension pay gap is often not given as much attention as the pay gap for women in work but it is just as important and significant.

Research suggests the gap between men and women’s pension income is more than twice that of the gender pay gap.

A study by the Union Progress found that pension income for female retirees was 39.5 per cent lower than for men that year, or around £7,000.

This is due to the fact that women are more likely to work part-time or work multiple low paid jobs.

This means that women are more likely than men to miss out on auto-enrolment contributions paid by employers into a workplace pension scheme.

Women also lose out on contributions if they take time out of work to care for children. Or for women working multiple part-time jobs that pay below the NI threshold, despite their contribution to society they are often missing out on any state pension entitlement.

It is not right or fair that low paid women with several jobs do not qualify for state pensions and that childbirth should mean a loss of pension contributions.

At the most recent Mayor’s Question Time I asked the Mayor how he was tackling the gender pay gap. I’m pleased that he is leading by example and that the gender pay gap has reduced at City Hall.

In 2017, under Sadiq Khan, the organisation’s progress towards gender equality was recognised when the GLA was named in the Times Top 50 Employers for Women.  Out of the ten Deputy Mayors in his team, Sadiq has appointed six women.

He also oversaw female Commissioners for the London Fire Brigade and Metropolitan Police Service.

However, this is only a small dent in the problem. It is crucial that businesses across London look at how they can work to close the pay gap within their organisations quickly and encourage the brilliant women that make up our city.

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