A COMPLETE cultural rethink is needed to break the cycle of women putting in long hours at work and at home, while continuing to earn less money than men, according to a new report.

Married women and those with children have increasingly found work over the past 25 years, while the number of men in employment and the hours they worked had fallen, a study found.

But women still did most of the housework, regardless of their academic or professional qualifications, it was revealed.

Dr Susan Harkness of Bristol University said women usually took time off work to look after sick children, while working mothers with youngsters did twice as much housework as their partners.

Long working hours, the burden of unpaid housework and childcare responsibilities had increased time pressures for women, said the report.

"The constraints that these pressures put on the energies of working women, is holding back their earning power.

"Being on the run with work and family commitments provides little opportunity to concentrate on the actions necessary for career progression," said the report.

"Breaking this cycle cannot be achieved by legislation alone and may require a complete cultural rethink."


wage, the TUC claimed today.

The union organisation said "dodgy" agencies were routinely making deductions for cashing pay cheques or providing clothing or safety equipment, leaving temporary workers taking home well below the £4.85 an hour statutory wage.

Workers were reluctant to make an official complaint because they did not know their rights and were afraid of losing their jobs and their accommodation, said the TUC.

General secretary Brendan Barber said: "The current regulations which are designed to protect agency workers from abuse at the hands of rogue agencies are clearly doing nothing of the sort. Agency workers deserve a better deal than many of them are getting at the moment."

The TUC said regulations which came into force in 2003 to protect agency workers from exploitation from unscrupulous agencies were doing little to prevent abuse, especially among migrant workers.

The Government was urged to increase the number of inspectors checking up on the pay and conditions of agency workers.

Agencies targeted by the TUC were mainly small and usually hired migrant workers.