Two in five women workers aged over 50 say they need to cut back on their hours at work, the TUC said yesterday.
The union's research, released to mark the final day of the TUC Women's conference, reveals that older women are often caught between family and work responsibilities.
Around 40 per cent of women aged 50-64 say they want to cut back on their hours, a rate that falls to 30 per cent of women aged 20-34.
TUC believes the results show that a widespread demand for more flexible work is not being met.
The desire to cut back is greater for women over 50 as many have to balance work with looking after children, grandchildren and parents, the trade union organisation said.
As a result, too many people wanting fewer hours at work have to move into low-paid part-time jobs rather than working with flexible hours for their current employer.
The analysis is the latest in a series of reports for the TUC's Age Immaterial campaign which focuses on issues facing women over 50 at work.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "While underemployment is a big issue for many workers today, there are millions of people that actually want fewer hours at work.
"The need to work fewer hours is particularly acute for women over 50 who have to balance work with multiple caring responsibilities.
"Unfortunately too many employers don't recognise any caring roles beyond motherhood, forcing many older women to trade down jobs in order to look after grandchildren, older children or their own parents."
She said employers needed to provide more high-quality flexible and part-time work to support women over 50 to look after their loved ones without having to give up their careers.
The government can also play its part by providing stronger flexible working rights, particularly for those caring for parents and grandchildren, she added.
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