Part-time working and pay amongst Millennium Cohort Study mothers

16 February 2011

A CLS Working Paper published today investigates new evidence from the Millennium Cohort Study on the ’part-time penalty:’ the lower rates of hourly pay offered in part-time jobs rather than full-time jobs to equivalently qualified and experienced women.

One aspect of the pay penalty to motherhood in Britain has been the lower rates of hourly pay offered in part-time jobs rather than full-time jobs to equivalently qualified and experienced women.  This ’part-time penalty’ is not a universal experience; it does not apply for example in Australia. It now seems no longer to be a uniform experience across the UK labour market. 

This paper investigates new evidence from the Millennium Cohort Study.  It broadly suggests that switching from full-time work into part-time work after a first birth is still associated with a reduction in relative hourly pay, when it is accompanied by a change of employer. 

The new finding is that mothers who managed to take advantage of new opportunities to reduce hours in their existing jobs, without changing employer, seem to have escaped the more severe hourly pay consequences of part-time working. This is likely to be the result of increased statutory rights and actual improvements in employer practice rather than differences in the characteristics of working mothers who pursue different employment strategies.

These institutional changes seem to have made it possible to cut hours without substantially lowering hourly pay.  However part-time jobs in general remain relatively disadvantaged.

NEUBURGER, J., JOSHI, H. and DEX, S. (2011) Part-time working and pay amongst Millennium Cohort Study mothers.  CLS Working Paper 2011/2. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies