‘Half of mums have flexible work request rejected’

A TUC and Mother Pukka survey shows 50% of working mums has had a flexible working request rejected and that many don’t even bother asking because they know their request will be turned down.

keyboard with 'flexible' working


Half of working mums who have made a flexible working request have had it turned down, according to a new survey published by the TUC and campaigner Mother Pukka.

The survey of nearly 13,000 mums found that many women are put off asking for flexible working. Two in five (42%) said they were worried about their employers’ negative reaction. Others thought there was no point asking as it would just be turned down (42%). Only one in 20 (5%) working mums who hadn’t made a flexible working request said it was because they didn’t need it.

Most (86%) of women working flexibly said that they have faced discrimination and disadvantage at work due to their flexible work arrangements. And two in five (42%) mums told the TUC that they would not feel comfortable asking about flexible working in a job interview because they thought they would be discriminated against.

The TUC argues that support for flexible work being the default or normal way of working is “overwhelming”. More than nine out of 10 (92%) of working mums who currently work flexibly told the TUC they would find it difficult or impossible to do their job without it.

Almost all respondents [99%] said the government should make employers advertise flexible working in job ads – with the successful candidate having the right to take up this flexibility from their first day at work and that they would be more likely to apply for a job if it included the specific types of flexible working available in the advert. Ninety six per cent backed calls to be given the right to flexible working from day one in a job.

The TUC is calling on the government to encourage employers to think upfront about the flexible working options that are available in a role, publish these in all job adverts and give successful applicants a day one right to take it up. It says workers should be allowed to work flexibly from day one, unless there are exceptional circumstances that prevent it as well as the right to appeal any rejections [not currently a statutory right] and they say there shouldn’t be a limit on how many times you can ask for flexible working arrangements in a year.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “There is overwhelming support for mums and all working parents to be able to work flexibly to manage their work and caring commitments.

“It’s time to make flexible working the norm as we emerge from the pandemic. It’s the best way to keep women in work and to close the gender pay gap.

“But the current system is broken. Employers still have free rein to turn down requests for flexible working. And women are too scared to ask for flexible working at job interviews, for fear of being discriminated against.

“Ministers need to do more than just tinker with a flawed system. They need to change the law so that all jobs are advertised with flexible options clearly stated, and all workers have the legal right to work flexibly from their first day in a job.”

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