Working women have been found to experience far higher levels of redundancies during the Covid pandemic than in any previous recessions, according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC). Female redundancies in the UK reached 178,000 between September and November 2020, according to the TUC which is 76% higher than the peak reached during the 2007 financial crisis when female redundancy levels were at 100,000.
In the same 2020 period 217,000 men were made redundant, which was just 3% more than the peak of male redundancies during the financial crisis.
Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC said “Women are more likely to be on furlough than men and to work in the sectors hit hardest by Covid, such as retail and hospitality. They also bore the brunt of childcare while schools and nurseries were closed. Without ongoing support from ministers, many more women face losing their jobs.”
According to experts women employees dominate the companies hit by the Covid pandemic making the job market very fragile for women. According to the TUC’s jobs monitor “there is a significant risk to women’s employment going forwards”. From December 2019 to December 2020 women accounted for 60% of job losses in hospitality, 60% job losses in retail and almost 60% of job losses in other services including hairdressers, beauty and care services.
There has been a slow down in the numbers of female redundancies since November 2020, however the figures are still at “crisis levels”, said the TUC. The latest official figures show close to 94,000 female redundancies were made between December 2020 and February of 2021 figures which were similar to those at the peak of the financial crash.
Economists have said that when the furlough scheme ends in September 2021 there will be another surge in redundancies for women because women are more likely to have been furloughed than men. Research carried out by the Women’s Budget Group state that although women only make up 47.3% of the UK workforce 52.1% of women have been furloughed. In actual numbers this means that by February 2021, 2,337,900 women have been furloughed compared with 2,144,700 men.
“Unfortunately, things are likely to get worse before they get better,” said Felicia Willow, the chief executive of the Fawcett Society. “When the furlough scheme ends, we expect to see employers in hospitality, retail, and other customer service industries lay off large numbers of employees. Because of the clustering of women in these sectors, we fear that redundancy rates of women will increase significantly.”
Mary-Ann Stephenson, the director of the Women’s Budget Group (WBG) said the government plans to ‘build back better’ by focussing mainly on construction projects. However WBG research showed that alternatively a similar investment in care would create nearly three times as many jobs as in construction. “A care-led recovery would create more jobs for men, and many more for women, who are at greater risk of redundancy,” she said.