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One in 10 mums quit work due to childcare pressures

One in 10 mums quit work due to childcare pressures
Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

A study into the impact childcare responsibilities have on women and their careers also found that two-fifths of working mothers have turned down a promotion due to childcare issues.

The Paths to parenthood: uplifting new mothers at work report by the Fawcett Society and Totaljobs found that outdated prejudices and assumptions mean women face unnecessary and harmful attitudes that hold them back at work. This results in many women stuck in roles below their capabilities.

The report found working mothers are 1.4 times more likely to feel the financial burden of childcare costs compared to working fathers, while only a third (31%) of working mothers have access to the flexible working arrangement they need.

The majority (85%) of working mothers reported struggling to find a job that could accommodate their childcare needs.

‘Family-friendly cultures’

Jemima Olchawski, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “For businesses that are struggling to retain talent and combat ongoing skills shortages, the opportunity to develop promising careers that should never have stalled in the first place is an obvious step towards solving these issues.

“This must change. Importantly, that support must go to women who are out of the workforce longest, particularly those who take over 26 weeks of maternity leave, as well as women who are low paid, and those who are single parents. It isn’t good enough to have supportive policies on paper; businesses need to make those a reality in the workplace and create genuinely family-friendly cultures.”

The report said it was clear that it was often “black and minoritised women and lone parents who are at the sharpest end of restrictive stereotypes”. The society said a meaningful commitment to closing the gender pay gap and supporting returning mothers must consider the specific experiences of women from these groups.

‘End the motherhood penalty’

The data also showed that flexible working is the most important demand from working parents. The Fawcett Society said that mothers have the best chance of being fully integrated into the workforce when company-wide cultures of flexible working are embraced.

“We call on businesses and government to prioritise ending the motherhood penalty by properly supporting women to balance their work and caring responsibilities. Right now, the UK simply cannot afford to let these talents go to waste,” added Olchawski.

Jane Lorigan, chief executive of Totaljobs, said: “There are more mothers in the workplace than ever before, and businesses need to create an environment where they can flourish. With critical labour shortages, the pressures of childcare could ultimately have a longer-term impact on our ever-shrinking workforce. Not only do working parents need more support, but we need to ensure this support extends to the people who need it the most.

“While businesses can only go so far without a government policy change, there are very important steps they can take to improve the situation. Tracking the progress of working mothers when they return from maternity leave will help highlight any shortcomings from the business side. Creating a clear policy framework will let everyone know where they stand. And clearly signposting the support available will ensure no working mother misses out on the support she is entitled to.”