People who look after people tend to be women on low pay

Published: 9th Feb 2018

“So looking after your mum, give it to social care workers and they are usually women. We pay them as little amount of money as we possibly can within the law. Or our precious four-year-olds. They are looked after again largely by women and largely paid the least amount.”

Emily Thornberry, BBC Question Time 8 February 2018

82% of people working in caring personal services are women. That’s out of 1.3 million people, and more than half of them are care workers and home carers.

94% of people working in childcare and related personal services are women. That’s out of 851,000 people from nursery nurses to teaching assistants.

The Office for National Statistics publishes a detailed breakdown of employment by occupation. From that you’d also find there are 11,000 florists, 17,000 sports players, and 43,000 clergy in the UK, as of the second quarter of 2018.

See how you fit in with the ONS’s gender pay gap tool that shows how many men and women work in different jobs and how much men and women earn.

These caring roles are relatively low paid occupations. 12% of social care workers are paid the minimum wage as well as 16% of childcare workers, taking over 24s in 2017, according to the Low Pay Commission. That compares to 6.4% for all workers over 24 years old.

It’s not all minimum wage work. The ‘caring personal service occupations’, which include childcare and social care, pay on average £9.11 an hour (slightly less for women, 20p more for men). Half of people in those jobs earn less than that, and half the people earn more. The best paid tenth of them earn about £12.99 an hour.

The least well paid group is the ‘elementary administration and service occupations’, paid on average £8.10 an hour (£8.58 for men, £7.85 for women). These figures are for all employees including both full-time and part-time workers.

The ONS points out that the kinds of jobs men and women are more likely to do is part of what explains the overall gender pay gap: “a higher proportion of women work in occupations such as administration and caring, which tend to offer lower salaries.”

Many people care for someone else without being paid for it. 3.3 million females and 2.4 million males in England and Wales reported being unpaid carers in the Census in 2011. These unpaid carers are not included in the figures above.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of BBC Question Time. Read the roundup.


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