Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Eamon Scanlon says the time has come for the Government to wake up to the pensions gap facing women and to implement measures to ensure that women, who have taken time out of the workplace to look after children, or care for a loved one, are not penalised any longer.
Anomalies in the current legislation are discriminating against women, and are leaving them worse off in terms of pension entitlements.
Deputy Scanlon raised the issue in the Dáil earlier this week.
“This is an issue which I am particularly passionate about, and one which I have been raising continuously since my election last year. The past four decades have witnessed a seismic change in women’s participation in the workforce, but they are still financially less well off than men. Changes to the contributory pension thresholds that determine how much of a pension people receive has seen the situation for women deteriorate significantly”, he explained.
“We need to move towards a universal pensions system which would give both women and men equal access to a comprehensive pension guarantee. The payment rate must provide for a decent standard of living for all. We have a situation where many people, mainly women, are being denied a full State pension on retirement. We are also dealing with a situation where people are being forced to retire at 65 but who cannot access their entitlement to receive a State pension until they reach 66. These issues, combined with a low uptake in private pensions, are leading to a looming pensions crisis.
“Fine Gael has been in Government for seven years and it is time this issue was resolved. The current pensions pay gap between men and women is worth about €700 a month. In fact, only 16% of women receive the full State pension. There is effectively a generation of women who are on reduced pensions or are in receipt of one as a qualified adult, which is related to their husband’s pension and is not a payment to them in their own right.
“This model is not only deeply unfair, it’s archaic. Men and women need to be treated equally and this Government needs to come up with measures to ensure that pension payment rates provide a decent standard of living for all”.