Part-time workers pay high price for motherhood

British women are paying a shockingly high price for motherhood as they are forced into lower-skilled, part-time work after having children, according to the findings of a new survey.

British women are paying a shockingly high price for motherhood as they are forced into lower-skilled, part-time work after having children, according to the findings of a new survey.

The poll of over 1,600 part-time working mothers conducted by the Resolution Foundation and Netmums revealed almost half (48%) of mothers on low to middle incomes take a lower-skilled part time job on their return to work after having children. Even those mothers that held a degree could not find work which paid a salary commensurate with their skills: 42% of degree holders said they had taken a less skilled job because of working part time.

To coincide with the poll, the Resolution Foundation has issued a report, The price of motherhood: women and part-time work, which shows that most women who work part time have voluntarily chosen to do so because they want a better work life balance and, in some cases, because they want to continue their careers.

It says that women on higher incomes have greater choice over their hours and those on lower incomes would choose to work longer hours if it made financial sense. The problem was that high childcare costs meant they would be no better off if they did longer hours. The report found that the financial need for lower paid women to work meant that more of them were forced to take jobs that were below their skill level than women in higher income families.

It said it was clear women in different income groups faced different challenges that needed different responses. While those in the higher income group would benefit from more affordable childcare and greater job flexibility, their main challenge is finding part-time work that matches their skill level, said the report. This was because part-time employment is concentrated in low paid, low skill sectors. Higher skilled jobs tended to be offered on a full-time basis or four days a week. Some respondents said that, while they had wanted to work only three days, their employer would not accept such an arrangement.

Women on low to middle incomes and for those on the lowest incomes had different priorities, said the report – the high cost of childcare and the lack of more flexible full-time employment options. While there has been significant growth in flexible employment since the introduction of the right to request in 2003, said the report, part-time remains the most common type of flexibility offered by employers and different forms of flexible working would offer greater choice to women.

It recommends: greater access to affordable childcare through restoring the cuts in tax credits introduced by the current Government; access to more flexible employment opportunities for fathers and mothers and different types of flexibility than part-time work; and access to well paid, high skilled employment on a part-time basis.





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