Living wage “out of reach for most women working part-time” says Midlands TUC

Call for wage initiative to reduce pay discrepancy.

The majority of women working part-time in Malvern earn less than the living wage – the highest proportion in the Midlands and the third highest in Britain – according to research published today by the TUC.

Today (28th August, which is two-thirds of the way through 2014) is effectively the last day this year that women working part-time get paid. This is because they earn just 66p for every pound earned by men working full-time (which is a pay gap of 34.2 per cent). One of the main reasons for this huge gender pay divide is the large concentration of women doing low-paid, part-time work, says the TUC.

Across the UK, around two in five part-time jobs pay less than the living wage. But TUC analysis of official figures from the House of Commons Library shows that in Malvern two thirds (65.7 per cent) working part-time are paid below the living wage . Mansfield (63.8 per cent) and North Warwickshire (60.9 per cent) are the next worst affected areas in the Midlands. In both these local areas the majority of women working part-time earn less than the living wage, which is currently £7.65 an hour.

Warwick has the lowest proportion of women working part-time for less than the living wage at 24 per cent, followed by Stoke at 27 per cent. With women accounting for almost three-quarters of Britain’s six-million strong part-time workforce, the lack of skilled, decently-paid, part-time jobs affects women’s pay and their career prospects far more than it does men, says the TUC.

The TUC would like to see more employers paying the living wage. This would help tackle the growing scourge of in-work poverty and make big inroads into closing what it sees as the scandalous 34 per cent part-time gender pay gap. The TUC believes that local authorities should lead by example by becoming living wage employers themselves. Several local authorities in the Midlands, such as Birmingham, Derby and Leicester, are already living wage employers but many more need to become accredited, says the TUC.

At both central and local government level, employers can boost take-up of the living wage by encouraging private companies that win public contracts to pay a living wage to their staff. The TUC also wants to see more jobs advertised on a part-time basis, ending the requirement that women have to be in post for six months before they have the right to request flexible working. Many women feel unable to ask about the possibility of a shorter working week during a job interview for fear it could adversely affect their chances of success, says the TUC.

Midlands TUC Regional Secretary Lee Barron said: “In-work poverty is growing across the Midlands and it’s often women that bear the brunt of low pay. The living wage was created so that work can provide staff with a basic standard of living. But in too many places like Malvern and Mansfield, most women working part-time are way off earning this.

“Women would gain most from a greater take-up of the living wage by employers. Councils can lead the way by becoming living wage employers themselves. But they also need to work with local employers and unions to use the living wage to tackle in-work poverty throughout the area.”