TUC study finds significant wage gap between working fathers and childless men

TUC study finds significant wage gap between working fathers and childless men

A new report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has found that fathers working full-time get paid a fifth more than childless men with similar jobs.

The study revealed that fathers earn, on average, a 21% ‘wage bonus’ compared to men without children, and that those with two children earn on average 9% more than those with just one.

In its analysis of the findings, the TUC suggests that the ‘wage bonus’ can be partly explained by fathers working longer hours and putting in increased effort at work. Labour market figures show that men with children work slightly longer hours, on average, than those without.

An additional factor may be positive discrimination: the TUC report cites international studies, which found that CVs from fathers were scored more highly than identical ones from non-fathers. This suggests that employers potentially view fathers as ‘more reliable and responsible employees’.

However, this is in contrast to the experience of working mothers. The report found that women who become mothers before 33 typically suffer a 15% ‘pay penalty’.

The same international studies revealed that CVs from mothers were marked down against those from women without children, and UK figures show that mothers tend to work shorter hours than childless women in similar jobs.

The report used data from the 1970 British Cohort Study, which follows the lives of more than 17,000 people born in England, Scotland and Wales in a single week of 1970.

TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: ‘In stark contrast to the experience of working mums who often see their earnings fall after having children, fatherhood has a positive impact on men’s earnings.

‘It says much about current attitudes that men with children are seen as more committed by employers, while mothers are still often treated as liabilities.

‘While men play a much more active role in raising their children nowadays, many are afraid to request flexible working or time off in case it damages their career prospects.

‘We won’t break this cycle unless fathers are given access to independent paid leave to look after their kids, that isn’t shared with their partners. And we need more decently-paid jobs to be available on a reduced hours or flexible work basis. This would reduce the motherhood pay penalty and enable more dads to take work that fits with their parenting responsibilities.’

Studies have consistently shown that men earn more than women, regardless of whether they are parents or not. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently revealed that the gap between men and women's pay for full-time workers was 9.4% in April 2015, compared with 9.6% in 2014.