No pay and no gain: women lose out on earnings and pensions

08 November 2007
Women are being paid less than men and many are finding themselves at a loose end when they reach retirement. The pay gap in the UK is reportedly the highest of the 27 European countries.

The Fawcett Society claims that, on average, women working full-time earn 17 per cent less per hour than men working full-time. With the average salary totalling £23,600, this means women earn approximately £4,000 less a year.

And the IoD has revealed that women in senior jobs could be earning as much as 26 per cent less than men in equivalent roles. While female directors in service sector jobs earn £57,000 on average, men are raking in £70,000.

“It is wholly unacceptable in this day and age that it appears that women in comparable positions do not receive the same rewards as their male counterparts,” says IoD director general, Miles Templeman.

Pensions are another contentious issue in terms of gender. Scottish Widows reports that 35 per cent of women do not have a pension scheme compared with 22 per cent of men, while Daily Mail figures indicate that just 17 per cent of women have a full basic state pension compared with 78 per cent of men.

Many women are not being awarded a state pension following time away from work to raise children or to care for the elderly. However, the Daily Mail indicates that means that many women have had their National Insurance qualifying years topped up through the Government’s Home Responsibilities Protection scheme but are still not receiving the pension.

Furthermore, women are paying a smaller amount into work pension schemes, so many will have smaller pensions compared with their male counterparts as well as being paid less during their working lives. Meanwhile, employer contributions into pension schemes are worth an average 6.5 per cent of annual salary for men, compared with just 5.7 per cent for women.

This is “effectively compounding the effect of the pay gap and making the gender 'pensions gap' even wider,” says head of pensions’ market development at Scottish Widows, Ian Naismith.

As many women are financially dependent on their partner when they retire, private pensions could be a way of levelling the playing field to ensure women have something to fall back on when they come to retire.

Find out more about retirement income and self-invested personal pensions

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