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Poor managers push mothers out of the workforce

Nearly 20% of working mothers in the survey had asked for flexible working

The 2016 survey results from job and community site Workingmums are now out and the information on flexible working is pretty shocking, with women being pushed out of their jobs as a result of employers’ inflexible and outdated attitudes.

Nearly 20 per cent of working mothers in the survey had asked for flexible working, which had been refused and resulted in them leaving their jobs. These women form part of the 25 per cent of working mothers who had flexible working requests turned down.

Are these employers insane? Do they really think that paying someone to go on maternity leave and then making it impossible for them to return to their job is a sound business decision? Two-thirds of women taking maternity leave who had been refused flexible working felt that the employer was not justified in turning down the request and that, as a result, they would be seeking other employment at the end of their leave.

The reasons given by employers for their complete inflexibility are truly pathetic; for example, almost one-quarter said it would not be possible to reorganise work among their existing staff. Are 23 per cent of companies really so incompetent that they are unable to reallocate work among their staff?

The staggering lack of organisational ability and failure to accommodate parents does not stop there, with 21 per cent stating that to do so would have a detrimental effect on their ability to meet customer demands. Surely managers are there to organise this kind of situation by matching resources to demand?

If these managers are poleaxed by the overwhelming complexity of this business challenge, could they possibly be in the wrong job? You have to wonder whether any of them ever carry out a cost benefit analysis of their decision. Not only are they going to lose a trained and experienced member of staff but also they are going to have to recruit a replacement and train them; furthermore, parents with children tend to be good employees because once they find employment that will fit with their complicated timetables, they tend to stick with it.

Gillian Nissim, the founder of Workingmums, says the government needs to reinstate the statutory right to appeal if a flexible working request is turned down in these circumstances.

The message to these backward employers is that women now comprise half the workforce. Some have children and want a bit of flexibility, so manage it – this is what better-run companies than yours do.

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