In the past five years, mother of two Jessica Thorpe has developed into a master of flexible working from home.
She often only starts her working day when her two small children Frank (four) and Stella (18 months) lie in bed at night and cannot distract them.
To make sure she has full-time hours, she also works between kindergarten runs and even answers emails in pediatric waiting rooms.
WFM Revolution: Pension Experts Believe Working From Home Could Allow More Women To Move From Part-Time To Full-Time
And the zoom boom means that 40-year-old Jessica, who works in the events industry, can attend regular online meetings with her team in London from the comfort of her home in Sheffield.
Although she is often chaotic and stressful, this flexible work pattern has enabled her to continue to earn a substantial income and build her pension fund.
Now experts believe that Jessica’s way of life could be key to closing the gender gap that has long left retired women poorer than men.
Last week, insurance giant Aviva warned that moving to flexible working during the pandemic could hinder women’s careers.
Danny Harmer, Aviva’s chief people officer, said this is because women may be less likely than men to return to the office.
This could mean that men have more “visibility” with their superiors and a better chance of being promoted.
However, pension experts say the exact opposite could be the case, as working from home could allow more women to move from part-time to full-time.
According to investment firm Interactive Investor, the jump to full-time hours could increase a working mother’s pension pot by an average of £ 30,500.
Jessica says, “I think the idea of having to work in an office between 9am and 5pm every day is dead now.
“It is very easy for mothers to answer emails on the go and meet their deadlines at night as soon as their children are in bed.
“I have been working flexibly for more than five years and can therefore call up full-time hours – but sometimes also on weekends or evenings.
“I am very aware of my savings and it is good to know that I am still building up my pension fund when raising very young children.”
Shortfall: Research shows that retired women expect an average income of £ 33,980, while those over 55 save an average of £ 70,052 in pensions
Interactive Investor estimates that a full-time mother’s pension pot averages £ 153,562. But a mother who works part time has a typical pension fund of £ 123,061 – a difference of £ 30,501.
The investment platform estimates that around 300,000 mothers who have one or more elementary school-age children and currently work part-time will have access to full-time positions if their employers offer flexible working hours.
Becky O’Connor, Director of Annuities and Savings at Interactive Investor, says, “The reason a lot of mothers don’t work full-time is because work life often requires hours to be fulfilled at certain times of the day.
As a result, millions of women have lost valuable career advances, wages and pensions over the years. Many feel that they have to give up their jobs altogether, a pattern that has detrimental social and financial consequences.
“Flexibility could be a standard silver lining for these mothers at this terrible time, as it has opened employers’ eyes to the potential for a home-from-home revolution that allows people to take more hours and still meet their needs Meet children. ‘
Another study published this week by investment firm Fidelity found that only 22 percent of women feel they are on track to afford a comfortable retirement.
The research also found that retired women expected an average income of £ 33,980, but women aged 55 and over had an average of only £ 70,052 saved in their pension pots.
Former Pension Minister Baroness Ros Altmann welcomed the move to flexible working and added that it would “alleviate” some of the pension differences between men and women.
She says, “The more women can combine their caring duties with their careers, the better. It is certainly a good thing if jobs make it easier for women to continue their full-time work while balancing their other responsibilities.
“For far too long women had to take on most of the caring tasks – at their own expense.”
She adds, “But that will only alleviate the problem – it’s not a solution. Many women are still unable to commit to full-time hours even when flexible working is an option. ‘
The government is under increasing pressure to legislate to allow more employees to work from home if they want.
In 2019, she committed to a consultation to make her the standard position unless employers had good reason.
Data from the Office of National Statistics show that a mother is more likely to work part-time than full-time until her youngest child is 11 years old.
This means that mothers are often missing out on a decade of full-time work.
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