Motherhood penalty: UK mothers earn less per hour than fathers

The disparity in the gender pay gap has intensified, with the median hourly pay difference between mothers and fathers expanding by 93p since 2020.

On International Women's Day, a study highlighted the detrimental impact of the 'motherhood penalty' on women and the economy, comparing the hourly earnings of mothers to fathers. In 2023, mothers were found to earn an average of 24% less per hour than fathers, equating to a £4.44 lower hourly rate. The analysis, using Office for National Statistics (ONS) data from January to March 2023 and comparing it to the same period in 2020, showed fathers earned a median hourly wage of £18.48, while mothers earned £14.04. Commissioned by the campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed, the study revealed that the gap in average hourly earnings between mothers and fathers had widened by 1.3% since 2020, reaching a 93p hourly difference.

Joeli Brearley, the Chief Executive of Pregnant Then Screwed said it's "even harder for women to have children and earn a decent living". The cost-of-living crisis, along with the increase of the cost of childcare has had harmful effects on women's careers.

While the gender pay gap has been slowly declining over the past years, progress has stalled. In 2023, the gap between full-time employees increased in 2022 by 0.1% from 7.6 to 7.7%.

Rachael Hays, Transformation Director at Definia, part of The IN Group, said: "Considering the time we live in, it's extremely disappointing to see many women still earning considerably less than men. The widening motherhood pay penalty is not just a gender issue, but a societal problem with long term consequences, such as driving the huge pensions pay gap. The divergence of men and women's salaries from the point of parenthood is a driving reason behind the gender pay gap that must be addressed to make real change.

"Increasing numbers of organisations bringing in longer periods of paid paternity leave and the post Covid removal of stigma around flexible and hybrid working will all contribute to pay parity, but there is a long way to go. At The IN Group our quarterly DEI committee meetings offer a safe, inclusive space where we talk honestly about what we're working on and where we might need to make changes, and I would encourage all businesses to follow this structure to give all employees plenty of support and recognition."