'Motherhood penalty, daddy bonus': new British parents judged at work

by Magdalena Mis | @magdalenamis1 | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 8 March 2016 00:01 GMT

In a 2011 file photo, a man and child walk by the sea in Brighton, southern England. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Image Caption and Rights Information

Women who become mothers before age of 33 earn 15 percent less than female colleagues who haven't had children

LONDON, March 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - If you're a new mother in Britain returning to work after having a baby here's some news for you: almost half your colleagues will think that you've become less committed to your job, according to a survey published on Tuesday.

However, if you're a new father, a baby comes with a bonus, as many of your peers will likely think your commitment to work has actually increased, said the poll by the Fawcett Society, a campaign group promoting women's rights in the labour market.

The news gets even worse for women who become mothers before the age of 33, who, according to analysis by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Britain's largest union group - earn 15 percent less than their female colleagues who haven't had children.

"The motherhood penalty and daddy bonus are still a strong feature of our workplaces," Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society's chief executive, said in a statement.

"This drives inequality and forces women and men into traditional male breadwinner, female carer roles."

According to the Fawcett Society survey, 46 percent of people in Britain believe women become less committed to their job after having a baby, compared to 11 percent who think the same is true for men.

Meanwhile, 29 percent of people believe new fathers become more committed to work, compared to just 8 percent who believe new mothers become more committed.

The poll showed discrepancies in how men and women see their share of childcare, with men almost twice as likely as women to believe that tasks such as making sure children do their homework or washing children's clothes were shared equally.

"The lack of flexibility and pressure on dads at work means women are still doing the bulk of the caring and the work around childcare," Smethers said.

"(...) until we start to see a more equal sharing of care we won't achieve equality at work and we won't close the pay gap."

The survey also showed that both men and women lie to their bosses in order to spend time caring for their children.

Four in 10 fathers said they were not getting enough leave time to care for their children and 38 percent said they resorted to lying to their bosses in order to spend time with their kids, compared to 28 percent of women who said they lied.

(Reporting by Magdalena Mis; Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.