Equal Pay for Earners and Carers

Couples who raise a family together need a family bank account. The parent who gets to go to work and bring home the wage packet does so because the unpaid parent cares for home and children. It’s a joint effort and the spoils belong to the family.

I am not assuming the man works and the women cares. I am assuming one works full time with no career breaks, gets promoted and is supported by a stay at home partner who ensures the children are cared for, shopping, cooking, ironing, house maintenance, holiday bookings, after school clubs and all the jazz are dealt with.  Maybe the home keeper also works part time but, the type of work available isn’t as well paid and career ambitions are secondary to family management.

Equality means that the combined value of the full time and part time (if there are any) earnings should pooled and divided equally between the team members who earned it.

Most full-time earners resist this equal treatment of the earned income. Usually the justification is to do with their earning potential being down to personal attributes; a superior education, enhanced ability, greater capability, more experience and consequently able to command higher pay than their partner.  It maybe that the career focused parent gets paid more than the other could achieve but it has little to do with personal attributes. Usually it is simply because right from childhood the resources have been used to develop one as an earner and the other as a carer and that’s why the carer is typically a woman.

Cause and effect have been confused. Society believes women are at home careering because they have a lower earnings potential when the reality is they have a lower earnings potential because society brands them as carers and deprives them of opportunities.

When I was at secondary school and selected options to study for GCSE I was offered childcare, needlework, home economic and typing. I recall making the decision not to study typing as did not want to be anyone’s secretary – big mistake- of the four options that would have been incredibly useful to me in my working life that was the one. I promise you I remain domestically barren! I was never offered the option of business studies at school, that was a boys subject. 

If women and men are developed equally throughout childhood and education with no preconceived ideas or stereotypes directing who will work and who will raise the children, then I believe we will be a step closer to equality. When it comes to marriage and family it will be a genuine negotiation about how best to utilise family resources to cover the earning and caring needs of the family unit.

Whilst getting true equality between earner and carer is a challenge most families contribute to communal spending proportionately compared to earnings. compared to earnings. The important point is to detail and agree the communal spending and regularly review it for accuracy, I would suggest at least quarterly, which is not hard to do if you use a dedicated family account for all the communal spending.

Once you know what the communal budget is you fund the account proportionately with reference to your earnings. If full time worker earns £3,000 a month and part time earner £1,000 and the communal budget is £2,500 per month then it falls ¾ to one and ¼ to the other = £1,875 and £625 respectively.

The process of negotiating what is communal spending and agreeing proportionate contributions can be healthy for relationships and it can be somewhat easier to do if you are being professionally coached through a financial planning exercise. An experienced financial planner can help highlight habitual but unjustifiable practices and encourage some new ways of thinking and acting.  Ultimately your money is your business but sometimes we need to invite someone with fresh perspective to find improvements you would never discover on our own. If you are deciding how best to split a pie it can be a lot easier for everyone if someone shows you how to make the pie bigger first.

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