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Auto-enrolment “biased in favour of men”

The pensions savings gap between men and women is set to increase this autumn as plans to get an additional 8 million people saving for their retirement fund exclude many lower paid and part-time workers.

Employees will only be obliged to join their company’s pensions scheme once their earnings exceed the income tax threshold of £8,105 under the automatic enrolment plans which will be enforced in October.

But according to Bluefin consulting, the earnings trigger will negatively affect women as the majority of workers who are paid lower than the threshold are women working in part-time jobs.

Robin Hames, head of technical at Bluefin, said: "We believe automatic enrolment will succeed in bringing millions more savers into the fold, but it will inadvertently be biased in favour of men. This is because they are more likely to earn over the minimum threshold, and part time workers, who are mainly female, are more likely to miss out."

Lower salaries and lower employee contributions towards retirement mean that women are already set to endure tougher retirements, with pension funds worth just two thirds (67%) of male pension pots.

With 5.9 million women currently working part-time – which adds up to nearly three quarters of all UK part-time roles – it is doubtful the automatic enrolment plans will do much to bridge the gap.

Mr Hames added: "What's clear is that financial inequality is being stored up for future generations of women. Automatic enrolment, as it currently stands, is unlikely to change this."

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