The unions have called on the government to take urgent action to close the “hooping pension gap”, as research has shown that women working in many industries have half the retirement savings of men.
TUC said Thursday was “Gender Pension Gap Day”, when female British pensioners in Great Britain began receiving salaries after running effectively for four and a half months without retirement income.
It called on the government to take urgent action as it revealed that the average pension gap is 38%, more than double the gender pay gap (currently 15.4%).
In two-thirds of industries, women have less than half of their workplace pensions than men, according to the union.
In manufacturing, wholesale, retail and other service jobs, women aged 45-64 have less than one-fifth of their male co-workers’ pensions, it said.
The average woman of the same age in administration and support services has almost no pension and has 100 times less retirement funds than the average man in the same industry.
One of the reasons for the imbalance is that many women take time out of work or part-time to look after their children, making it difficult for them to raise their pension. Women are also often paid less than men, which means they contribute less.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Women are facing a huge pension gap. And at the current rate of progress, it could take more than 50 years to close.
“A lot of women are paying retirement fees to spend time with their children when they are younger or to reduce their hours.”
She added: “Ministers must act now, or we will lead more generations of women into poverty in retirement.”
The TUC said ministers should address the issue by changing the auto-enrollment system and making child care more affordable.
The government says more women are saving pensions in the workplace since the introduction of auto-enrollment a decade ago.
A spokesman for the Department of Labor and Pensions said: “Automated enrollment has helped millions more women save their pensions. The participation of eligible women in the private sector has increased from 40% in 2012 to 86% in 2020 – equal to that of men.
“Our plans to remove the lower income threshold for contributions and to automatically lower the age of enrollment to 18 in the mid-2020s will enable more women to save more and start saving earlier.”