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6th September 2019

Length of employees’ commutes ‘fuelling gender pay gap’

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Commuting times may be contributing to the gender pay gap, according to a study published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Analysis of official data by the ONS found that longer commutes were associated with higher pay for both men and women, but that women spent 20 per cent less time traveling to work, which it said fuelled the problem of gender pay disparity.

In 2018, there was an 8.6 per cent pay gap between men and women working full time, according to ONS analysis of the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.

Its report found that both the gender pay gap and the gender gap in commuting times started to widen when workers reached their late 20s, which the report’s author, Vahé Nafilyan, said implied the disparity may be linked to having children. The average age of a first-time mother was 28.8 in 2017.

The report also found that women were more likely to leave a job because of a long commute, valuing the flexibility of shortened travel times over higher pay. The opposite was true for men, who were shown to be more motivated by reward and were therefore likely to travel further for work.

Women with a commute of 50 minutes or longer were almost 30 per cent more likely to leave their current job than someone undertaking a 10-minute commute, whereas among men the difference was 23.9 per cent.

The results from the analysis highlight the need for organisations to implement family friendly policies. To help combat the problem of commuting times, it’s important that organisations introduce initiatives such as flexible working and agile working. This will allow employees to have a better work-life balance and will help organisations with employee retention, as well as helping tackle their gender pay gap.