Women carry out an overall average of 60% more unpaid work than men, ONS analysis has shown.

ONS analysis1 of time use data shows that women put in more than double the proportion of unpaid work2 when it comes to cooking, childcare and housework.

On average men do 16 hours a week of such unpaid work, which includes adult care and child care, laundry and cleaning, to the 26 hours of unpaid work done by women a week.

The only area where men put in more unpaid work hours than women is in the provision of transport – this includes driving themselves and others around, as well as commuting to work.

When looking at economic status, full-time students do the least amount of unpaid work, while mothers on maternity leave do the most.

ONS figures for 2014 show that total unpaid work had a value of £1.01tn, equivalent to approximately 56% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Average hours of unpaid work done per week in each category for men and women, UK, 2015

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Women do more unpaid work than men in every age group, from the 25 and under age category to the 56 and over age category.


Overall, 36 to 45 year olds  carried out the most unpaid work, with this category putting in 27.40 mean hours per week of unpaid work, followed by 26 to 35 year olds.

However, 26 to 35 year old women delivered the most unpaid work of any other age category, putting in 34.60 mean hours of unpaid work a week.

People aged 46 to 55 provide the highest share of unpaid transport at 8.51 hours, the next highest commitment coming from 36 to 45 year olds, who contributed 8.04 hours per week.

Those in the 56 and over age group delivered the highest level of adult care, putting in 35 minutes, in comparison with the next highest of 13 minutes from 36 to 45 year olds.

The 56 and over category also did the most cooking, at an average of 7.46 hours a week and laundry at 2.07 hours a week, on average.

Average hours of unpaid work done per week in each age category for men and women, UK, 2015

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But what about the value of their work? The average man would earn £166.63 more per week if his unpaid work was paid, whereas the average woman would earn £259.63.

So not only do women do an average of 60% more unpaid work in terms of hours, they also tend to do the work that has a higher value.

Students vs Mothers

The average full-time student does just 12 hours of unpaid work per week compared with the average mother on maternity leave, who does 60.

The average full-time student does less than an hour of laundry and volunteering per week, 3 hours of cooking and clearing up meals and 2 hours of housework. They also transport themselves or others around - providing 5 hours of transport in a week (almost half their weekly unpaid work) and around an hour a week is spent actively engaging with a child.

In contrast, the average mother on maternity leave racks up 37 hours of active engagement with their child/children, 8 hours of cooking, 7 hours of housework, 2 hours of laundry and 6 hours of transporting themselves or others around.

Volunteering is the only type of unpaid work that students do more of – providing just under half an hour of volunteering time per week.

Average hours of unpaid work done per week by students and mothers on maternity leave, UK, 2015

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As a result, the value of their weekly unpaid work also varies massively; £762.75 for a woman on maternity leave, whereas a student does an average of £119.44.


The figures also revealed that people on lower incomes tended to carry out, on average, more unpaid work than other income brackets, with some exceptions, such as transport.

For example, those on low incomes spent an average of 5.93 hours per week doing unpaid cooking, compared with 4.98 hours for those on high incomes. Those on low incomes spent an average of 3.78 hours a week doing housework, compared with 3.23 for those on high incomes.

But those on high incomes provided 7.80 hours of free transport per week, compared with 5.43 hours for those on low incomes.

Average hours of unpaid work done per week by grouped income level, UK, 2015

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Unpaid work calculator: How much you could earn if someone paid you to do everyday tasks

How much work do you do in a week? Most people would just count the hours spent doing their job. But what about cooking, cleaning, ironing and volunteering?

All these tasks are classed as ‘unpaid work’ and here, using 2016 data on earnings, we can estimate how much you could earn for doing these tasks if you could only find someone to pay you.

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For more information, please contact: hhsa@ons.gov.uk

Other Visual. ONS articles:

The gender pay gap

Breadwinners in their 20s - how are they doing compared with previous generations?

UK energy: how much, what type and where from?

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  1. ONS has been collaborating with the Centre for Time Use Research to answer questions on topics such as society, work, gender, economics using the new 2015 Harmonised European Time Use Survey (HETUS; funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)).

  2. Unpaid work is defined as unpaid service work which households perform for themselves but which they could pay someone else to do for them. This work is not paid, and is therefore not captured in official measures of the economy such as GDP. Examples of unpaid work include: unpaid childcare, unpaid adult care, unpaid preparation of meals, unpaid laundry, unpaid transportation of self or others, unpaid housework, unpaid DIY, unpaid gardening or unpaid volunteering.