Women workers earning almost a quarter less than men – Govt must act on this with action on childcare and child welfare payments in Budget 2024

18 September 2023

On International Equal Day of Pay, Labour Party Worker’s Rights Spokesperson Marie Sherlock highlighted that women workers in Ireland on average earn 23% less compared with men per week.

Senator Sherlock said:

“This is an enormous gender pay gap and while we know there are many reasons behind it, the reality is that Government has within its powers the potential to dramatically reduce it.

“The absence of available childcare and at an affordable cost and other caring responsibilities has forced many women into part time work.

“A staggering 45% of all women are in paid employment working part time hours according to the CSO’s Labour force survey and for some women this may by choice. But we know from the conversations in our communities that the chronic shortage of affordable childcare and afterschool plus the sheer lack of care for babies under the age of 1 is forcing decisions on many women that they would not have otherwise chosen.

“Budget 2024 must made good the Government’s commitment to a 25% reduction in childcare fees and there needs to be a serious capital investment by the State in areas like Dublin’s inner city to build childcare facilities where childcare operators cannot find viable and appropriate physical space.

“Closing the gender pay gap and ensuring that women are not involuntarily caught in the vicious cycle of low pay, reduced hours, fewer promotional or pay increase opportunities requires a number of measures of which affordable available childcare is just one.

“The need for women to be enabled to collectively bargain their terms and conditions is also crucial and a fulsome implementation of the EU directive on adequate minimum wages will also be critical.

“In addition, we believe a greater spotlight should be shone on pay practises across almost all small and medium workplaces. From 2025, all firms with 50 or more staff will have to report their gender pay gap, yet it is clear from the CSO’s administrative data that the gender pay gap is even worse in smaller and medium firms. Workplaces with 20-49 staff had a weekly gender pay of 31% in 2021.”

Senator Sherlock concluded saying:

“The reality is that working women and particularly women who also have caring responsibilities alongside paid employment needs to be recognised and supported via fairer wage structures and additional Government supports.

“The ESRI’s recent report on Poverty, Income Inequality and Living Standards rightly highlights the disproportionately higher poverty levels among certain families, particularly lone parent families and the glaring need for additional income supports. Budget 2024 offers an opportunity for Government to make serious inroads for families.”

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