By Cassandra Baptiste
LONDON, Sept 4 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Women are more likely than men to take a lower paid job to avoid a lengthy commute to work which is fuelling the gender pay gap, according to research released by Britain's statisticians on Wednesday.
In its first analysis on the link between commuting times and the gender pay gap, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found longer commutes were associated with higher pay for both sexes.
But women who had an hour-long commute were 29.1 percent more likely to leave their current job than if they had a 10 minute commute compared to 23.9 percent of men.
Women on average spent about 20 percent less time travelling to get to work than men.
The ONS data showed the gender gap in commuting times and pay started to widen as people reached their mid to late 20s, implying a link to having children as the average age of a first-time mother was 28.8 years.
"These statistics show how women are likely sacrificing a larger pay packet, and career growth, because they are doing the bulk of childcare and unpaid work like taking care of elderly relatives and their home," said Britain's Minister of Women and Equalities Amber Rudd in a statement.
"Women across the country struggle to find a balance between being a parent and their job."
Government data shows that men in Britain earned on average 17.9 percent more than women last year and companies and charities with more than 250 employees are now required to report their gender pay gap every year.
The ONS said understanding the causes of the gender pay gap was crucial to provide adequate policy recommendations to address the differences which could no longer be explained by educational levels or discrimination.
"Our results indicate that the decision to leave one's job is more strongly influenced by commuting time for women than for men," the ONS said in a statement. (Reporting by Cassandra Baptiste, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith @BeeGoldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)