Employers who offer flexible hours and allow regular homeworking in full-time jobs are rated the most family friendly by parents, according to a poll conducted by Workingmums.co.uk.
For the over 2,100 parents polled, most of whom are mums, being a family friendly company was much more about flexible working than about good maternity policies. Some 87 per cent said offering flexible hours for full-time jobs was a key factor in what made for a family-friendly employer.
Eighty-three per cent said allowing regular work at home was what mattered; 78 per cent favoured offering part-time jobs and 75 per cent said allowing holiday days to be taken at short notice to deal with emergencies such as sick children was what counted. Childcare help was important for 62 per cent of parents, significantly higher than benefits like extended maternity pay periods, networking and support groups and parenting courses.
Seventy-nine per cent of those polled said they would be encouraged to work full time if there was some homeworking in their job. Seventy-two per cent said flexible hours would encourage them to work full time and 67 per cent favoured working close to home. Job satisfaction, working term time only and having an understanding employer also rated highly.
Some 33 per cent of the respondents were the main breadwinners in their family unit with nine per cent being the main breadwinner due to their partner’s redundancy or reduced hours.
Most women [77 per cent] who had gone back to work had done so for financial reasons – this was seven per cent up on last year’s figure.
For many being a working mum was a positive thing. Some 80 per cent of women said they enjoyed their work and 74 per cent said it boosted their self esteem.
Asked what were the main positives about being a working mum, 76 per cent said financial independence, 75 per cent said being a good role model for their children, 67 per cent said intellectual stimulation, 66 per cent said providing for the family, 63 per cent said having a balance between work and family life and 54 per cent said work made them feel happier.
For those not currently working, the greatest barrier to returning to work was viewed as the lack of appropriate flexible jobs [58 per cent], closely followed by lack of available flexible jobs [57 per cent].
Many, however, who were in jobs had got flexible working conditions with flexi hours being rated as very important, above part-time work which was rated very important by 66 per cent.
Some 69% of those parents who are working say they consider their job to be either flexible, very flexible or extremely flexible, but 57 per cent are earning less than they were before they had children (based on the full-time wage). Most found that their employer was supportive on their return to work [78%].
Of those who requested flexible or part-time working upon their return to work, a majority [57 per cent] felt that they got what they asked for or reached a good compromise.
Some 51 per cent of mums who aren’t currently working said that childcare costs are a factor in preventing them returning to work – this is 11 per cent higher than in last year’s survey, perhaps reflecting the changes in tax credits.
Forty-three per cent of parents said they make use of grandparents for childcare needs and so paid nothing. This compares to 35 per cent who use a nursery or crèche and two per cent who use a nanny. The rest use other family, childminders, friends or casual babysitters. Some 16 per cent said they paid over £500 a month in childcare costs.
For those not in work, 25 per cent said they had been made redundant; 11 per cent had found juggling it all too hard and five per cent left because their request for flexible working after maternity leave was refused. Around nine per cent just wanted a change.
Some 69 per cent said they had considered setting up their own business or franchise – six per cent up on last year’s survey.
Gillian Nissim, founder of Workingmums.co.uk, said: “Our survey shows that offering flexible working is by far and away the greatest benefit employers looking to attract this huge talent pool can offer. This includes the full panoply of flexible working, not just part-time jobs. The poll shows that employers could benefit hugely from looking carefully at every vacancy in their organisation and considering whether it can be worked flexibly, whether that be, for example, a couple of days a week from home or annualised hours. In return they will open up the talent pool from which they can recruit.”
Full details of the survey, sponsored by Nestlé, can be found here.