Pension gender gap is twice as large as the pay gender gap in Ireland- Hayes
Speaking at the Pensions Europe Annual Conference in Brussels, Brian Hayes MEP today said that the government needs to act on the pension gender gap which is now more than twice as large as the pay gender gap in Ireland.
“On the basis of Eurostat figures, Mercer this week published figures showing that Ireland’s pension gender gap is 35%, slightly below the EU average but still quite high by any measure. This is more than double our gender pay gap which is 14.8%.
“Closing the pension gender gap should be a clear focus of the new Cabinet, particularly as we go into very sensitive public sector pay and pension talks.
“It’s a great shame that the EU pension gender gap still stands at 40%. While there has been some good progress made in Ireland and the EU to reduce the pay divide between men and women, the pension gender gap is something that has been sadly neglected.
“A pension is the main source of income for one in four persons in Ireland. And due to rising life expectancy and the ageing of the population, that figure is predicted to double by 2060.
“I believe this issue needs to come up in discussions on the public sector pay and pensions talks. Any change in pension contributions needs to take into account gender issues and the effect they can have on people’s retirement income.
“In Ireland, our pension system is almost too strictly linked to income levels. There is little consideration given to the fact that many women will take career breaks to raise a family or work part-time.
“Additionally, because there are maximum pension contribution limits, it is difficult for employees who have had a career break to catch up on missed contributions.
“There are several things that the government can do to reduce the pension gender gap by changing the nature of our pension system in order to recognise the differences in work life balance between men and women.
“Many will say that the pension gender gap is a natural manifestation of the difference in work patterns between men and women. However, if we look at the Baltic countries, they all have pension gender gaps of below 15%. Estonia’s pension gender gap is just 4%.
“All over the EU, state pension systems are coming under increasing pressure. Governments across the EU need to change their pension systems to ensure that all citizens, both men and women, have the adequate facilities to provide for themselves into retirement. In Ireland, we still have very low coverage of employees who have private pension coverage. That needs to change soon.”