Mothers call on employers to do more to get women back to work
- 46% of mothers struggle with a work-life balance once they’ve returned to work.
- 38% say they struggled getting the same amount of work done in fewer hours.
- Employers need to do more to ensure mothers can get back to work on their own terms.
Research from NOW: Pensions reveals that nearly half (46%)* of working mothers find achieving a work-life balance challenging. Nearly four in ten (38%) admit this is because they struggle to get the same amount of work done in fewer hours.
Recent ONS statistics found that 75.1% of women are now in work, more than ever before, but the NOW: Pensions research revealed that three in ten mothers (28.5%) have had to reduce their working hours because of childcare reasons1. To combat this, 74% agreed that the least an employer can do to support mothers returning to work is offer more flexible hours.
This is important as research shows that working part-time to balance childcare responsibilities has the biggest impact on women’s ability to save for their future, with women currently reaching retirement age with an average pension of £106,000 less than men. These differing working patterns between men and women account for 31% of the gap, whilst the gender pay gap accounts for 19%.
Louise Johnson, a first-time mother and NHS nurse, is heading back to work soon on a part-time basis. She agrees that flexibility is essential for returning mothers. “Thankfully my workplace has been amazing with my maternity leave. I’m not back to work yet but, on the whole, I feel that employers need to work around a returning mother where they can. There are lots of practical things that can be challenging if mums can’t find childcare while working – such as collecting a child from nursery. Offering more flexible hours would be a huge step towards making life easier.”
Hayley Williams, a ballet school owner and teacher, said, “I think employers could be more understanding with parents, especially new parents. New parents are going in blind as to what should be expected and may need help. Transitioning from parent to employee is tricky to switch off. You’re always wondering what’s going on with your little one.”
Karianne Henderson, Cardano, said, “It would be really helpful if employers could openly put forward some suggestions of ways to manage working hours. It does seem a bit like employees are the ones who have to put forward a proposal.
“The most difficult thing I have found is managing the pick-up and drop-off with my 1.5hr commute each way. At the moment I’m using my accrued holiday to condense my working hours to 09.30 – 16.30 so I can drop off my daughter at 08.00 and pick up at 18.00. I’d really like to try and avoid cutting down my hours as it will affect my pay, pension and benefits.”
Eleanor Levy, Director of Marketing and Communications at NOW: Pensions, said: “Though progress has been made in enabling women to fulfil their working potential, they are still being disadvantaged for having children.
“More needs to be done by employers across the country to ensure that working mothers are given the support that they need. Offering more flexible working hours without compromising a woman’s pension pot is a crucial first step to ensuring equality in the workplace.”
Notes to editors
*Research conducted by Atomik Research among 2,003 mothers aged 45 and under from the UK who are employed, on maternal leave, or a full-time mum. The research fieldwork took place on 11th-15th October 2019.