Covid-19: Childcare burden falling on women, says Chambers Ireland

Women may retreat from workplace to mind children, which could trigger ‘wider pay gap’

Women may take a step back from the workplace to manage childcare which could trigger a ‘wider pay gap’ in the future, according to Chambers Ireland. File photograph: Getty

Women may take a step back from the workplace to manage childcare which could trigger a ‘wider pay gap’ in the future, according to Chambers Ireland. File photograph: Getty

 

Businesses have indicated that managing childcare during the Covid-19 pandemic is falling on women, Chambers Ireland has said.

Emma Kerins, head of policy and public affairs with the business network, said Covid-19 has transformed the workplace in terms of remote and flexible working.

However, she said women may take a step back from the workplace to manage childcare which could trigger a “wider pay gap” in the future.

“Some of the Oireachtas library and research, they published a note back in May and some of the findings they had is that all of the caring responsibilities are falling on women,” said Ms Kerins.

“Even when they [women] are working in the home and this is the feedback from a lot of members, businesses of all sizes, is that those caring responsibilities aren’t being evenly carried. So that as time goes on and Covid-19 isn’t going anywhere, that more women may either take a step back from the workplace – particularly in terms of managing childcare – and that they may kind of trigger a wider pay gap” in the future.

Emma Kerins of Chambers Ireland: International data shows that female-led businesses may have been more likely to close or shut during the pandemic.
Emma Kerins of Chambers Ireland: International data shows that female-led businesses may have been more likely to close or shut during the pandemic.

Ms Kerins was speaking on an online panel discussion about the gender pay gap to mark Equal Pay Day on Monday, which was organised by the WorkEqual campaign.

The campaign, established in 2016, aims to highlight the pay differential between men and women and centres on a month of activities and events every November, including Equal Pay Day.

Women in Ireland effectively “stop earning” for the rest of the year from Monday, due to the gender pay gap of 14.4 per cent, according to the campaign.

Women and part-time work

An online video featuring over 20 Oireachtas members speaking about gender equality was also launched as part of the campaign.

Ms Kerins said international data shows that female-led businesses may have been more likely to close or shut during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In terms of part-time workers in the economy, a lot of part-time workers were more likely to have lost their jobs than full-time workers in some of the restrictions and possibly less likely to get those jobs back.

“More than 70 per cent of part-time workers are women . . . That is also something we’re quite conscious of in terms of participation rates and also broader gender equality going forward,” she added.