Bias still seems entrenched in some sectors of the HR world, according to a new survey...read more
New polling shows that 11% of working mothers with children aged four and under have left a job due to the challenges of balancing work and childcare.
Over one in ten (11%) working mothers with very young children have left a job in recent years due to the challenges of balancing work and childcare, new research shows.
Almost one in five working mothers (19%) had also considered leaving their job, according to the research published today by the Fawcett Society, a women’s rights charity, and TotalJobs, a recruitment firm. The researchers polled 3,000 parents of children aged four and under in June.
Over three-quarters of mothers have a paid job, the highest rate for 20 years, according to official data. But several recent pieces of research have shown that mothers struggle to progress and reach senior levels in these jobs, when compared to fathers or child-free colleagues. This leaves mothers worse off financially, both day to day and when they retire.
Over a third (39%) of mothers and a quarter (26%) of fathers cite flexible working as the top form of workplace support that they want, the Fawcett Society’s new research shows. Flexible working covers a wide range of set-ups, from hybrid working to part-time and term-time roles.
The researchers also polled HR leaders, who largely said staff were more productive and easier to retain when the right support was put in place. Despite this, less than a third of mothers (31%) said they had access to the flexible working arrangements that they needed.
“The data clearly shows that flexible working is the most important demand from working parents,” Jemima Olchawski, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said in a statement. “Only when we fully embrace company-wide cultures of flexible working, will we see mothers have the best chance of being fully integrated into the workforce.”
The UK’s high childcare fees also played a big role in restricting parents who wanted to work more hours or take on more senior roles, the reports’ authors said.
Single mothers and those from racial minorities are particularly affected by the “motherhood penalty” in the workplace, the new report shows.
While 11% of working mothers had left a role due to the challenge of balancing work and childcare, this rose to 13% amongst single mothers. Almost half (49%) of single mothers had turned down a promotion or a career opportunity, due to concerns over childcare arrangements, versus 41% of working mothers overall.
The research also found that a higher proportion of mothers from non-white backgrounds had had to take unpaid leave due to childcare responsibilities. Solutions and support for working mothers should be particularly targeted at those who need it most, the report’s authors said.
“It’s clear that often it is Black and minoritised women, and lone parents, who are at the sharpest end of restrictive stereotypes,” Olchawski said. “So a meaningful commitment to closing the gender pay gap and supporting returning mothers must consider the specific experiences of women from these groups.”
The report found that men’s careers were also affected by having children – over a third (37%) of fathers said they had turned down a promotion or a career opportunity due to concerns over childcare arrangements, versus 41% of mothers. However, fathers were much less likely to feel under financial pressure over childcare costs or household bills.