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Women underestimating impact of reduced working hours on their pensions

Just a third (34%) of women have considered the impact reducing working hours could have on their pension contributions, compared to 62% of men according to research from think tank Phoenix Insights.

The research suggested more engagement around pensions from employers was needed to help close the gender pension gap for women.

Over half of those surveyed (54%) said they would be more likely to think about their long term finances if their employer engaged with them more about their pension, while 76% said it should be a legal requirement for employers to inform them about how monthly pension contributions will change if they reduce their working hours.

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Chris Eastwood, co-founder of pension provider Penfold, said better pension education from employers could contribute significantly to closing gender pension gaps at work.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “The gender pension gap is a complex problem with a number of societal factors preventing us from solving it. That said, there are ways we can help in the short term and it really starts with education.

"Only when women understand the importance of a pension, how you go about building a healthy pot and the impact of wage discrepancies, career breaks and part-time work on final pot value, will we start to see an improvement in the gap.

"The onus is on the pensions industry to take into account the specific needs of women when it comes to building pension products that work for both genders. For employers, we recommend choosing a workplace pension provider who can support you with delivering educational content that enables your team to get the most out of this important employee benefit."

Women on average were found to be contributing £102 per month less than men to their workplace pension, despite paying a similar percentage of their salary (6%).

For those aged between 45-54, men are saving 50% more into their workplace pension than women - £245 compared to £165 per month.

Abbie Winton, research fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies, said making more flexible working opportunities available to women would be beneficial for their pension contributions.

She added: "Similar to the gender pay gap, the gender pension gap puts female workers at a huge financial disadvantage and could contribute to higher levels of poverty among older women.

Our research indicated that women are less likely to be automatically enrolled since they are disproportionately represented among those beneath the £10,000 threshold.

"For women who do contribute, the value of their contributions remains restricted by the lower levels of pay they receive on average, despite contributing a similar proportion of their earnings to men.

"While we welcome initiatives that will help to address the gap, such as flexible working from day one, one of the key ways of tackling this challenge is for employers to ensure that they are making full-time opportunities accessible to more women by making flexible working the norm and advertising roles as flexible from day one.”