Retail trade union Usdaw is calling for action to address the significant pension income gap between men and women. Studies show that the pension income gap currently stands at 38%, which is twice the current gender pay gap.
The TUC has commissioned new analysis of Office for National Statistics figures and reported that in the wholesale and retail sector, women between 45 and 64 have just 19% of the pension wealth of male colleagues.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “The gender pension income gap is nothing short of scandalous. The most obvious reason for this disparity is the unequal division of caring responsibilities. Women are much more likely to take time out of work or reduce their working hours to look after children or provide care for adults and this makes it difficult to build up a workplace pension.
“Women have historically earned less than men, due to the gender pay gap and because a large number of women work part time they do not always meet the eligibility criteria to be auto-enrolled into workplace schemes. It’s not just workplace pensions that are impacted. There are historical differences in national insurance resulting in women receiving lower state pensions. Usdaw has also been highlighting the errors made by the DWP, resulting in many women receiving underpaid state pensions.
“This unequal treatment is outrageous and we urge the Government to acknowledge this issue and review the auto-enrolment legislation, which will further help women to close the gap. Usdaw is committed to campaigning and supporting our members, along with our workplace reps raising pension awareness and encouraging conversations around money and planning for the future. Our campaigning also seeks to tackle the deep rooted inequalities in society.”
Usdaw has already called on Government to:
- Reduce the minimum age for workers to be enrolled into a pension scheme from 22 to 18, to encourage early saving for retirement.
- Scrap the current earnings threshold of £10,000, to help low-paid, part-time and multiple job workers, who are predominantly women, to get on the first rung of the savings ladder.
- Gradually increase the current minimum contribution rate of 8% (employers currently only have to contribute a minimum of 3%)
- Support the introduction of state auto-enrolment contribution credits for those who take a career break which could potentially make a significant difference in reducing the pensions gender gap.