A third of women in work are not eligible for automatic enrolment into a workplace pension, leaving many at risk of not having a decent income in later life, according to new research.
The startling figures are in contrast to 16% of male employees who are not eligible for automatic enrolment.
The research by the Pensions Policy Institute, sponsored by Age UK, Who is ineligible for automatic enrolment? (PDF 405 KB), is an evidence-based paper examining whether different demographic groups meet the criteria for auto-enrolement into workplace pensions.
Just under a quarter of all employees do not meet the qualifying criteria, and of these, 57% are ineligible because they earn less than £10,000 a year.
This illustrates not only the problems faced by many woman workers but also disabled workers, ethnic minorities, recipients of Carer's Allowance, those with more than one part time job and people who work in the service industry.
The research shows that 81% of workers receiving Carer’s Allowance do not qualify.
Ethnic minority groups are also less likely to meet the qualifying criteria. For example, about a third of Pakistani and Bangladeshi workers are not eligible, compared to 23% of white workers.
The research shows 30% of disabled workers (900,000 people) are also not eligible, and only 55% of people working in the service industries are eligible compared to 80% in most other sectors.
These figures, however, only include people who are employees, and there are many more who do not qualify because they are self-employed or not in work. Of the total population aged 16-64, about half qualify for automatic enrolment.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: 'While automatic enrolment has so far been a resounding success at engaging more people in pension saving, these figures show that many lower earners are being excluded from workplace pensions.
'We must make sure that more people benefit so they do not reach retirement with an empty pension pot.
'We would like to see the auto-enrolment threshold lowered, so more people can enjoy a better-standard of living in retirement. With people living longer it is more important than ever that people get the chance of a private pension.'