The Government has called for a further 100,000 single parents to get back to work next year when their youngest child reaches five years of age. Yet according to a survey of single parents, ‘family-friendly’ jobs are still in short supply.
In September, 120,000 single parents whose youngest child is aged seven will be required to seek work.
Parents must look for jobs of 16 hours or more, and parents with children aged under 12 can limit their job-search to school-hours jobs. But the lack of flexible jobs out there could jeopardise plans to have more single parents in work.
Yet a national survey by Gingerbread of its single parent members and users of NetMums website found a high number of single parents who had seen no or few jobs they could apply for advertised at part time hours (62%); within school hours (97%); as a job share (95%); or flexible in some other way (97%).
Asked what they would need to balance home with working life. Parents said they were looking for part-time or flexible hours so they could drop their children off at school and pick them up and the flexibility to attend school functions together with some paid time off when their child was sick.
Launching the Gingerbread Briefing on flexible working, Chief Executive of the charity Fiona Weir called for the Government to move faster on plans for flexible working:
“The business case for flexible working is proven with 92% of employers agreeing that people work best when they can balance work and other aspects of their lives. Recent policy changes have focused on pressuring single parents to seek work or risk benefit cuts. But that isn’t what is needed. Nationally nearly 60% of single parents are already in work and most of those on benefits say they want a job. A workplace that works better for single parents is the missing part of the jigsaw. Without action from Government and employers many single parents will remain trapped in poverty.”
The Coalition Government has committed to introduce flexible working for all and launched a taskforce on children and families. Gingerbread is calling on the Coalition to:
- Implement its plans to enable all employees to apply for flexible working before it requires single parents to work once their youngest is aged five
- Ensure all jobs in the public sector are offered on a part- time or flexible basis unless there is a clear business case not to.
- Introduce a right to paid parental leave to help parents deal with time off when children are ill.
And it wants employers to:
- Offer employees a set number of paid days per year for caring for dependents.
- Offer training on managing flexible working to all managers.
- Offer jobs of 16 hours per week so that parents can claim working tax credit.
Workingmums.co.uk recent survey of nearly 2,000 mothers, released this week, found that mums cited flexible hours for full time jobs, regular work at home and the offer of part-time jobs as the three factors that made a company family friendly – flexi-hours ranked as the most important aspect (76%), even surpassing part-time hours which was also rated important for two thirds of the respondents.
But more than two thirds of workers (69%) agree that their job is flexible – more than three quarters (77%) found their employer was supportive when they returned to work.
Just over half (53%) of those who requested flexible or part-time working upon their return to work felt they got what they had requested or had reached a good compromise.