‘Motherhood penalty’ still a major factor in the gender pay gap

Media releases
Topics Gender

This Mother’s Day, Diversity Council Australia is calling for more action to address the ‘Motherhood penalty’.

DCA’s CEO, Lisa Annese, said the national gender pay gap stands at 16% and has remained between 15% and 19% for the past two decades.

“The current gender pay gap means that women working full time are earning $261.30 per week less than men working full time. This amounts to nearly $14,000 over a year, or $543,504 over a 40 year working life!

“Women are taking time out of the workforce to be mums, and when they return, they are often working in jobs that are lower-paid than the work they did prior to having children, but also frequently not reflecting their abilities, education levels or work experience. According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, mother’s earnings decrease further for each additional child they have. Add part-time work into that mix, and mums are missing out.

“It’s no wonder that average superannuation balances for women at retirement are 52.8% less than those for men.

“If we really value mothers, we need to do a lot more to address this problem. So this Mother’s Day, (as well as breakfast in bed) we are calling on men to take up their share of caring responsibilities at home. It’s good for mums, but sharing the care at home is also great for dads and for families.

“And we are asking business to be more flexible and look at ways they can address the ‘motherhood penalty’ – by offering parental leave to dads, making sure flexible work is available to anyone for any reason and providing superannuation top-ups to employees (male and female) on parental leave,” said Lisa.

How organisations can address the motherhood penalty:

  • Offer paid parental leave and make it accessible to non-birth parents, or provide other financial incentives for a non-birth partner to take leave to stay at home and care for their child, allowing the mother to return to work, should they wish to. (See DCA’s submission to the Inquiry into the Fairer Paid Parental Leave Bill 2016 for organisational case studies.)
  • Provide women with additional contributions to superannuation and pay superannuation on the unpaid portion of parental leave. (See DCA’s submission to the Productivity Commission’s draft report into Superannuation Competitiveness and Efficiency for organisational case studies.)
  • Support pregnant women and mothers to return to work and to continue to be valued members of the workforce with the same opportunities as their colleagues.
  • Ensure flexible work is available to all employees at all levels of the organisation and design jobs, workflows and careers that can encompass flexible working. (See DCA’s Future-Flex)
  • Make sure organisational culture supports both women and men to work flexibly, and train managers on how to manage employees working flexibly.
  • Review wage setting and pay scales to ensure part-time workers are compensated at the same levels as their full-time counterparts.
  • Put in place performance evaluation and development criteria that are gender-neutral and do not disadvantage employees working flexibly and provide salary transparency where possible

For more information on the gender pay gap and ways to address it, see She's Price(d)less: The economics of the gender pay gap report by KPMG, produced in partnership with DCA and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

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