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Women over 50 ‘struggling to further their careers’

Older women in the workplace are struggling to balance their careers with their responsibilities at home, according to a report by the TUC.

One of the main reasons why they are failing to achieve the best of both worlds is because of what the TUC calls “a rigid workplace structure”. This sees employees given no room for manoeuvre when it comes to caring for elderly relatives and continuing with their jobs at the level they used to.

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said many modern workplace cultures were “ill-equipped” to deal with the complex roles this demographic occupied at home and called for more flexible guidelines to be put in place to make it easier.

“New rights to carers leave and adjustment leave to help them cope with sudden emergencies would make a huge difference to women’s working lives, and would also enable employers to keep hold of experienced and often highly qualified staff,” she commented.

According to TUC research, nearly half (49 per cent) of women in their 50s cared for at least one of their parents, while just under two-fifths (39 per cent) were still looking after their own children. Additionally, one in five (21 per cent) had taken on responsibilities for their grandchildren.

As a result, many have had to take a big hit in their wages to accommodate their double life. Almost half of all women in this age group work on a part-time basis, with an average annual wage of less than £10,000 per year. Those who do work full-time are often paid less than their male equivalents, with the gender pay gap double what it is for younger female workers.

If this demographic were allowed to spend more time working from home, or their employers were to take a flexible approach to their daily duties, then this could make a significant difference. Modern remote working technology can certainly make this possible, while video conferencing is another solution that can allow them to participate in meetings and communicate with colleagues without spending as much of their day in the office.