Is the lockdown erasing gains made for the gender pay gap?

There is “a risk that the lockdown will lead to a further increase in the gender wage gap,” as it has resulted in reduced working hours for mothers with the added pressure of looking after children at home whilst schools are no longer open.

This research comes from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) report ‘How are mothers and fathers balancing work and family under lockdown?’ Which found that working mothers are 47 per cent more likely compared to fathers to have lost their job or quit.

Mothers are able to do one hour of uninterrupted work compared to fathers doing three. Lucy Kraftma, a research economist at the IFS, believes this is due to mothers doing more housework or childcare.

Ms Kraftman said:

The only set of households where we see mothers and fathers sharing childcare and housework equally are those in which both parents were previously working but the father has now stopped working for pay while the mother is still in paid work.

Mothers are also 14 per cent more likely to have been furloughed, however, Sonya Krutikov deputy research director of the IFS believes that due to the current situation, fathers are spending more on childcare responsibilities which could encourage mothers and fathers to take more of an equal share once lockdown concludes.

Ms Krutikov  said:

Fathers, on average, are doing nearly double the hours of childcare they were doing prior to the crisis. This may bring about changes in the attitudes of fathers, mothers, children and employers about the role of fathers in meeting family needs for childcare and domestic work during the working week.

Alison Andrew, a senior research economist at IFS explained that mothers have “more interruptions” than fathers whilst at home.

Ms Andrews 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 even if they are still working and they experience more interruptions while they work from home than fathers, particularly due to caring for children.

Back in April, HRreview reported that the roles that carry the highest chance of catching COVID-19 tend to be held by women such as nurses, pharmacists, carers and several other health jobs, where the majority of workers are female.

These results come from the think tank, Autonomy which analysed UK jobs which involve the most physical contact with others. It also found that those on lower pay are more likely to catch the virus.

Out of the 3.2 million high risks jobs in the UK at the moment, 2.5 million of these are held by women. As well as 98 per cent of lower-paid jobs being held by women.

In March, warnings from Liz Truss, minister for women & equalities, and David Isaac, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) explained that just because the publishing of gender pay gap reporting has been suspended this year due to COVID-19, businesses should “not lose sight of the importance of gender equality”.

The pair at the time said:

We recognise that employers across the country are facing unprecedented uncertainty and pressure at this time.

Because of this we feel it is only right to suspend enforcement of gender pay gap reporting this year.

This study was conducted by the IFS and University College London (UCL) interviewing 3,500 families.