Governments should impose a legal duty on employers to inform employees about the impact on their working hours and earnings on their pensions, a think-tank has said.
To help reduce the gender pension gap, Phoenix Insights said employees need help understanding how their working hours and earnings affect their pension savings. A third of women in particular cut their hours in the long run.
its Caught in the Gap ReportProduced in conjunction with the Institute for Employment Studies, it found that life events including motherhood, menopause, divorce, childcare, menstruation and caring responsibilities can disproportionately affect women’s earnings and therefore pension contributions.
However, many women do not receive adequate information about the impact these events will have on their pension pot. 55 per cent said they wanted more information about their workplace pensions from their employer.
Separate research from the think-tank also found that 20% of women have opted out of a workplace pension scheme, with 36% not considering the impact it would have on retirement.
On average women contribute a larger proportion of their salary to their pension, but by middle age, men are paying around £80 more per month into their pension pot.
Women are also more likely than men to fall under the auto-enrolment threshold (35% vs. 11%) and are more likely to be economically inactive due to chronic health conditions.
The The latest report in the seriesWhich looks at the government’s role in helping women build better pensions, recommends that legal requirements around pension communications are expanded, so that employers must provide information about how contract changes could affect savings.
The auto-enrolment threshold should also be lowered to the age of 18, the report says, and the income threshold reduced to £0.
Other recommendations include making free pension war appointments available to everyone, not just the over-50s; Revising the Carer’s Leave Bill to ensure that working carers can access up to 10-days of statutory paid leave; and bringing in the right to request flexible working from day one of employment (which the government recently confirmed), but reducing the number of times an employer can refuse it from eight to two.
Catherine Foote, director of Phoenix Insights, said: “Women are being left behind in their pay and pension savings at key stages of life and decisive action is needed to improve current policies and practices to support businesses and individuals to address the disparity.
“Efforts should be focused on improving pension policy, providing better support to employers and introducing legislative protections for women in life events. We have identified key recommendations for these areas, including better pension access and information, increasing financial literacy, and caring and flexible working including improving accessibility.
Abby Winton, Research Fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies, said: “If current and future governments fail to act on the gender pension gap, we can be certain that increasing numbers of women will receive an income in retirement that will fail to allow them to meet their basic needs.
“Legislative changes, particularly around removing auto-enrolment thresholds, widening access to advice, improving affordability and access to child and social care, and flexible working rights, are all important to allow people to control both their working lives. And for them Ability to save on working methods.