Young worker’s Challenge #9: Pressure on working parents
Being in low paid, insecure work with limited opportunities for progression is pretty tough. Having a child still at home adds a whole lot more pressure. More than a quarter of Britain’s young core workers have at least one dependent child – a much higher proportion than among other employees of the same age.
Young mothers have it particularly tough at work. Mothers aged under 25 are more likely than average to have bad, sometimes discriminatory experiences. For example, six times as many young mothers reported losing their jobs once they told their employer they were pregnant (6% compared to 1% of mothers of all ages). They are also more likely to feel under pressure to resign, or be treated so badly by their boss that they feel they have to leave work.
20% of young mothers have experienced some form of harassment related to their pregnancy, or after returning to work, compared to 15% of all mothers. Young mothers were also more likely to feel unsupported by their employer.
Younger women lose more pay on becoming mothers than older women do. The TUC compared pay for women who haven’t had children, and those who have, at different ages. The study took into account the effects of personal characteristics e.g. education or region. It found that by the age of 42, women who became mothers before they turned 33 earn 15% less than women who hadn’t had children. In contrast, women who became mothers at 33 or older actually get a wage bonus of 12% compared to similar women who hadn’t had children.
Britain’s young core workers are more likely to be single parents than other employees of the same age and single mothers are particularly likely to be in low-skilled work. They can find it extremely difficult to progress out of low-paid work once they are in it.
All of Britain’s young core workers face an array of challenges. Those who are also parents are under additional pressure and trade unions must think about how they can support young parents to get a better experience of work.
Britain’s young core workers are the voices that are missing from our movement. They are aspirational, dynamic and want to be successful. But they are often trapped in low income work without the opportunity to progress or achieve what they want.
We’ve identified ten challenges facing Britain’s young core workers, and challenge unions to meet them. Check back here for the next challenge and read the full report.