Large numbers of working mums are still saying it is difficult to find a new flexible job at their level of experience, according to a Workingmums.co.uk poll.
Some 89% of the 100 women polled said they found it hard, with only 8% saying it wasn’t difficult. The remaining 3% said they didn’t want a flexible job.
One woman said: “Companies say they offer flexibility, but it seems only possible to get a flexible working arrangement when returning to your old work.”
Others complained that sectors such as construction were still very male-dominated and flexible working was just not offered.
Others had had to become self employed to get a flexible job which allowed them to use their experience and skills.
One woman said: “It’s really frustrating looking for part-time flexible work.”
Workingmums.co.uk was set up 10 years ago to help working mums who were looking for jobs with some form of flexibility to connect with employers who were looking for people with the skills and experience that these women offered and could offer an element of flexibility. Despite progress in flexible working, including the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees, and despite the huge demand from potential recruits, many employers are still reluctant to advertise new flexible roles. This means candidates have to negotiate flexibility during the interview process.
This can be tricky, depending on the employer and on how many people have applied for the job and can have the effect of making candidates feel they are asking a favour from the outset in spite of the numerous benefits that research shows flexible working can bring employers, from reduced absence to more motivated, loyal staff.
One woman who didn’t have any problems finding a flexible job at her level said this was because she was upfront about her need for flexibility. She said: “I have never found it difficult because I insist on flexibility at interview.”
The availability of high quality flexible jobs is also cited by several research projects, most recently in a paper from Timewise and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, as a factor in preventing women moving up from lower waged jobs.
Workingmums.co.uk’s annual survey consistently finds that a lack of flexible roles is the biggest barrier to women returning to work, over and above childcare costs. It works with a number of employers who see that advertising flexible new roles opens up an extensive talent pool for them. These include Barclays Personal and Corporate Banking, winner of Workingmums.co.uk’s Top Employer Award for Talent Attraction, who advertise every job as welcoming job share applicants.