The average pension paid to female teachers last year through the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) was over a quarter less than that paid to male colleagues, according to new research.
Specialist financial services mutual Wesleyan found that in 2020-21, female teachers received £11,581 a year, compared to £16,034 for males – a ‘gender pension gap’ of 28%.
One factor likely to influence this gulf is pension growth lost when members take time to have and raise children.
While members can take statutory maternity leave of up to a year – during which time they remain in employment – statutory maternity pay only covers 39 weeks. This leaves three months where teachers who choose to take a full year’s leave will receive no pensionable income at all.
Wesleyan’s own research found that 38% of female teachers in England are unaware that taking maternity leave will reduce their final pension pot. This rises to 51% of female teachers in their 20s.
It’s imperative that teachers are carefully and regularly reviewing their plans to ensure they aren’t caught out – Linda Wallace, Wesleyan
A more significant impact on pension growth would be faced by those who leave their employment entirely to meet caregiving responsibilities – such as taking a career break to raise children.
Wesleyan’s analysis of the TPS data highlighted that many female teachers could be at risk of not having enough money to meet their needs in retirement, should current trends continue.
Its own research revealed that 57% of female teachers expect to need more than £25,001 a year in their retirement– a gap of at least £13,420 a year, when held against the £11,581 2021-21 average, that they will need to meet through sources other than the TPS.
Linda Wallace, director of Wesleyan, said: “Factors like career breaks to meet caring responsibilities are contributing to shockingly disparate pension pots for men and women in the teaching profession.
“These figures not only highlight a gulf in the pension women and men have to access in retirement, but also the shortfall women face in their retirement income. Even if the maximum state pension of £9,339 a year is taken into account, many female teachers could be at risk of being without the money they expect they’ll need.
“The pension impact of career breaks won’t just affect female teachers alone – anyone taking family leave or time out of employment could be affected. With that in mind, it’s imperative that teachers are carefully and regularly reviewing their plans to ensure they aren’t caught out.”
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