LOCKDOWN is threatening to widen the gender pay gap, meaning women will be paid less than men for even longer.
New research shows that female workers – and mothers in particular – are disproportionately bearing the financial costs of the coronavirus crisis.
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The knock-on effect of this could mean that the gender pay gap lasts decades more than initially predicted.
Mums are 23 per cent more likely than fathers to have lost their jobs either temporarily or permanently, according to new research.
The study, which was carried out by the Institute For Fiscal Studies (IFS) and University College London (UCL) also found that women were 14 per cent more likely to have been furloughed.
Where mothers have been able to keep their jobs, they have reduced their paid working hours substantially and by more than fathers.
School closures, massive rates of job loss and furloughing, and a shift to home working are all affecting how parents divide responsibilities for paid work, housework and childcare.
The study found that mums are far more likely than dads to spend their work hours simultaneously trying to care for children and are picking up a greater share of the housework.
The combined effect is that in lockdown, mothers in two-parent households are only doing a third of the uninterrupted paid-work hours of fathers.
Before lockdown, mums did around 60 per cent of the uninterrupted work hours of dads.
This sharp reduction in the time that mothers are spending dedicated to paid work risks lasting harm to their careers when lockdown is lifted.
Alison Andrew, a senior research economist at the IFS, said: “Mothers are more likely than fathers to have moved out of paid work since the start of lockdown.
“They have reduced their working hours more than fathers… and they experience more interruptions… particularly due to caring for children.
“A risk is that the lockdown leads to a further increase in the gender wage gap.”
In fact, the Fawcett Society, a charity that campaigns for gender equality, has warned that women may have to wait far longer to be paid the same as men.
Before coronavirus, the charity calculated it would take 60 years to close Britain’s gender pay gap.
But now it is saying that the crisis could push equality back by “decades”.
The charity is campaigning for funding for childcare infrastructure to be prioritised as lockdown is eased.
Several charity bosses and women’s group CEOs wrote a letter to the Prime Minister calling for substantial long-term investment in the childcare sector.
It is estimated that the crisis could lead to a loss of 10,000 childcare businesses or 150,000 childcare places.
The letter says that this catastrophic loss of childcare provision will result in fewer mothers being able to return to work.
Boris Johnson has previously said he would do “whatever it takes to help get women back into work” and that “childcare is absolutely critical for the success of our economy”.
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