Employment rate of mothers has dropped 20% lower than fathers

According to new research from Bionic, the employment rate of mothers has dropped 20% lower than fathers. The research, which used statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), looked at where in the UK has the biggest discrepancy in employment, for mothers vs fathers.

The research also found that even though the gender pay gap among full-time employees fell from 9.0% in 2019 to 7.4% in 2020, there is still up to a 21% salary difference between working fathers and mothers. There is also a marked difference in employment rates between the two groups.

Employment rates of mothers across the UK

Around the UK (2019) Men with dependent children Women with dependent children Percentage difference between men & women in work with dependent children
Scotland 93.10% 77.20% 18.67%
Wales 89.90% 77.20% 15.20%
England 92.70% 74.80% 21.37%
Northern Ireland 93% 75.70% 20.51%

According to ONS statistics, Scotland and Wales have the highest levels of employment rates for mothers in the UK, with 77.20% of women reported to have children dependent on them whilst being in work. In Scotland, this means that there are 18.67% more women with children dependent on them vs men with dependent children.

For Wales, this discrepancy is smaller at 15.20%, but the highest percentage difference throughout the UK was between fathers and mothers in England. Over 21% more mothers have dependent children on them in England vs fathers, a significant difference.

Employment rates of mothers fall 20% lower than fathers

ONS also reported that in April to June 2019, only 3 in every 4 mothers with dependent children (75.1%) in the UK were in work. This is compared to an overwhelming 92.6% of fathers with dependent children being in full-time employment.

April to June 2010 to 2019, UK Men with dependent children Women with dependent children Percentage Different for Men and Women
April-June 2010 88.60% 67.80% 26.60%
April-June 2011 88.90% 67.40% 27.51%
April-June 2012 89.80% 68% 27.63%
April-June 2013 90% 69.30% 25.99%
April-June 2014 91.30% 69.70% 26.83%
April-June 2015 91.10% 70.80% 25.08%
April-June 2016 92.30% 72.10% 24.57%
April-June 2017 92.10% 73.80% 22.06%
April-June 2018 92.80% 74.20% 22.28%
April-June 2019 92.60% 75.10% 20.87%

Almost 3 in 10 mothers (28.5%) with a child aged 14 years and under said they had reduced their working hours because of childcare reasons. This is compared to just 1 in 20 fathers (4.8%).

Glyn Britton, Chief Customer Officer at business comparison expert Bionic, offered some insight into what businesses can do to bridge this gap: “As more businesses have been forced to adopt some form of remote working, more employees have come to appreciate the importance of a healthy work/life balance. None more so than parents.

“If businesses want to attract and keep the best talent, they need to offer more than a competitive salary, and having attractive maternity and paternity policies in place can make all the difference for prospective and current employees.

“As a minimum, mothers can take up to 52 weeks leave after giving birth, the first six of which must be on at least 90% pay. Fathers can take up to two weeks on the lower of £151.97 a week or 90% of their wages. If your business can offer more attractive terms, it could give you an edge over others.

“Other ideas include offering flexible, hybrid working and creating a maternity and paternity strategy to offer support and advice to parents. And, if you’ve not done so already, closing the gender pay gap will give the clearest indication of your support for equality in the workplace.”