Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Fearon condemns ‘pay penalty’ for mums

Sinn Féin equality spokesperson Megan Fearon has criticised the findings of a report by The Institute for Fiscal Studies which shows that mothers in part-time jobs are being hit by a “pay penalty”.

The Newry and Armagh MLA called on organisations to take steps to understand why part-time work diminishes opportunities for women to increase their wages and to address the negative impact of part-time work on employment opportunities after the report found that  the effect of part-time work in shutting down wage progression was especially striking.

Referring to a recent “audit of inequalities in employment” carried out by the Equality Commission which identified that women experience a lower employment rate and a higher economic inactivity rate when they have dependents, Ms Fearon said one contributing factor is the lack of access to affordable quality child care.

“First class provision of childcare helps parents into work, to move families out of poverty while helping break the cycle of inter-generational deprivation,” said the Sinn Fein representative.

“While Sinn Féin acknowledge affordability as a key issue, we stress the need for easy accessibility to high quality childcare provision in all communities, including rural communities.

Ms Fearon said her party acknowledged that another step to addressing the pay penalty issue is the Gender Pay Gap act which says employers are now required to publish information showing whether any gender pay disparities exist between their employees. Where gender pay differences are identified, employers will be required to publish an action plan to eliminate them and provide a copy of the action plan to employees and any recognised trade union.

“This will be one step to help address discrimination and inequality issues in the workplace along with increasing the supply of high-quality, affordable child care,” she added.