As more and more women are staying in the workplace after having children – and often full time – parents are demanding greater flexibility, but dads are still being held back by old-fashioned policies and fears that their employer will react negatively to requests to work flexibly, according to two new Workingmums.co.uk surveys.
While Workingmums.co.uk’s annual survey, sponsored by McDonald’s, shows 59% of mums say their partner doesn’t work flexibly and only 4% say their partner works part time, a survey of dads shows overwhelming demand for flexible working among men with 73% saying they are considering seeking it, but 72% fearing their employer’s reaction if they do.
The survey highlights the way society is changing: 22.5% of the over 2,400 mums who took part are the main earners in their families [compared to 17% in 2016] and an additional 18% are the main earners because they are single parents. Yet mums, who are more able to work reduced hours, still hold the major responsibilities for childcare and housework with just 23% saying childcare is shared equally and around 4% saying their partner does more than them.
Many mums also said that working flexibly had had a negative impact on their career progression:
- 42% say their flexible working is not viewed positively by colleagues
- 49% say flexible working has held them back in their career
- 54% of part timers say they miss out on career progression opportunities.
Despite this, there is a big demand for greater flexibility, particularly flexible hours and 56% worry their flexible working will be taken away. A quarter [25%] of mums work full time with no flexibility and 40% of those who work flexibly feel they don’t have enough flexibility. Only 7% do job shares, although these are held up as a good way for people to progress their careers while working reduced hours.
The survey also highlighted that:
- 62% have considered setting up a business with the flexibility to have more control the key reason
- 67% of women said they were interested in retraining
- 65% of working mums feel they have to work harder due to unconscious bias
- 11% have elder care as well as childcare responsibilities and 68% of these say their employer is not supportive.
- Grandparents are still the favoured way of reducing childcare costs (50%)
- 35% would consider Shared Parental Leave with finance being the main barrier [40%]. However, 24% of mums say they just don’t want to share their leave.
Commenting on the results, Gillian Nissim, founder of Workingmums.co.uk, said: “There has been a lot of focus in the last year on the gender pay gap. A huge part of this is down to the lack of women in senior positions. Promotion often occurs around the time that women start families.
“Our survey shows that more employers need to focus on ways to ensure women don’t drop off the progression track as a result of working flexibly. It also suggests much more needs to be done to make it easier for dads to share parenting duties more equally by enabling them to work flexibly.”
Harriet Hounsell, McDonald’s UK & Ireland Chief People Officer, commented: “We are proud to employ great people who are passionate about their jobs, including many parents. We know one of the reasons people join us is because of the flexibility we provide – flexibility that allows parents to spend school holidays with their children or work around childcare commitments and the school pick up.
“As one of the largest employers in the UK, we will continue to create jobs that suit different lifestyles and life-stages, as well as supporting our employees through training programmes, and on the job training, to support both flexibility and progression.”