The "gender pension gap" is a known issue. Women are more likely to be left in poverty on retirement because they typically work fewer hours due to caring responsibilities from their late twenties onwards, and because they face earnings penalties on returning to the workforce after taking maternity leave.
New research from fintech Pensionbee, released today, found that if men took responsibility for an equal share of unpaid care work when they have young children, women could increase their pension pots by more than £106,000 on average.
If the unpaid care work were split equally, couples would also likely see more than 10% in extra savings in a combined pension pot at age 64, the report found.
It stated: "Too often the onus is placed on women to close the gender pension gap, by changing their behaviour. This is not fair or effective. Policy interventions are required to support increased male participation in care responsibilities."
Pensionbee founder and mother-of-two, Romi Savova, argues that business leaders changing their policies is key to tackling the issue.
Savova told the Standard firms should offer equal parental leave packages to people of all genders, and have more transparency on the issue.
She also called on Government to help ease the burden of "prohibitive" costs of high quality early years childcare by allowing parents to pay nannies from their pre-tax income.
Savova, a former banker, also said the Government should make it easier for businesses to create on-site nurseries in offices.
"You need men to step up and do their part, but you also need employers to facilitate it. All too often we see the business of having children as women’s business, and so there are maternity leave policies but not parental leave policies,” she said. "You need a national conversation around why it is so important to share parental duties, especially in the early days.
"A lot of employers will compare a woman coming back from maternity leave to a man who didn’t take any leave and therefore progressed for six months, and I think those biases are really hard to fight unless men also join in and do their part.”
“It’s the right moment in time to be looking at this,” she added.
Many employers offer men just a few weeks of paid paternity leave, with those considered generous offering three months.
Attitudes are slowly changing - this month the John Lewis Partnership became the first UK retailer to offer all staff six months’ paid parental leave - but there is a long way to go. Pensionbee offers 110 days full pay to all new parents.
The average cost of sending children under two to nursery full-time currently stands at £263 a week in the UK. In many families, one parent does not return to work because it works out cheaper for them to just stay at home.
Savova attempted to create a nursery on site at the company’s City office, but was faced with so much paperwork and such high costs it was "pretty much impossible". She said: "The tax system discourages anything but long-term maternal childcare, so of course the Government can do more."