Caution: Mums at work [infographic]

When I went back to work 18 months ago after my nine month maternity leave, I didn’t realise how fundamentally different my life would be as a working mum.

I didn’t realise that I’d learn how unjust the system is to support mother’s – and father’s that want to go back to work. That need to go back to work.

This isn’t just about shared paternity leave – the problem is much bigger than that. It’s about the prejudices that are still around working mums. About the inflexibility of careers.

Mums at work statistics - infographic from BringingupGeorgia.com

Please feel free to share this infographic, but to attribute it back to bringingupgeorgia.com

Working at a cost

UK law states that ANYBODY, who has been working for more than 26 weeks has the right to ask for flexible working.

Did you know that?

Personally, I’m a part-time worker along with 29% of families in England2. I work 4 days a week and that works out comfortably for me to spend time with my daughter.

But what I’m not comfortable with is what that means for my family. We pay for childcare for all the time that I’m in work. That means that I’m basically working for a few extra pounds minus childcare costs.

We’re just one family that shares the same story as thousands in the UK. We both have to work to afford our lifestyle (which granted is our own choice) but childcare costs practically rings us dry every month. 22% of families like us find it fairly or very difficult to meet growing childcare costs in order to work1.

Prejudice against working mums

As a working mum, I work bloody hard. I love my job and I’m passionate about it. That doesn’t make me a bad person. That makes me lucky. Sure, at 4.30 when the time strikes I’m halfway out the door, but that doesn’t make me any less committed. Instead? I try to turn up earlier.

But as a working mum I’m constantly working against the idea that 46% of people believe that mums become less committed to work after having a baby3.

That’s as compared to only 11% of people believing that dad’s become less committed to work.

Sure, there will be mums and dads that feel less committed to work after having a child. But that balance of prejudice should be equal between both parents.

Why should mums be treated any differently to dads when it comes to getting back into work?

Not equal household responsibility

We live in a fairly equal responsibility house. I do the ironing, he does the cooking. He takes our daughter to nursery, I pick her up. It’s fair to say that we share our parenting responsibilities equally.

But we’re not living in an equal world yet.

The first thing that 44% of mums2 do when they get home from work? Housework. Cooking. Cleaning. You know the drill. That’s as compared to just 24% of dads.

The first thing that dads do when they get home is play with the kids (42%) – as compared to 34% of mums2.

Although we’d love to think that we’re living in a cosmopolitan world, we’re not quite there yet.

Always the short straw for illnesses:

When it comes to taking time off for sickness, 70% of mums3 say it’s down to them to take time off.

Illness is an inevitability when children are so young. When our daughter first went to nursery, I rarely spent a full week at work for months. It made me feel worthless as an employee and worried about what my work would think.

Luckily, my boss has small children and was always understanding. I could work flexibly while she was ill, or choose to take off parenting leave.

It didn’t take my family long to work out a system with rules to make sure that we knew what we were doing if and when she fell ill.

We need more flexibility

As parents, we need more flexibility.

Did you know that only 6% of jobs advertised are openly part-time or advertise flexible working patterns?

With so many parents wanting flexible working it puts pressure on careers – making a parent’s decision on whether or not to progress with their career not just down to whether it’s a right step for them.

To parents, there’s always a worry as to whether a new employee will be as, if not more flexible to maintain the work-life balance that’s already been agreed with your current employer.

Of course, you can find out more about the brilliant Mother Pukka’s Flex Appeal if it’s something you feel passionate about.

What are your thoughts on flexible working as a parent? Did any of the statistics shock you?

Sources:

  1. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/childcare-and-early-years-survey-of-parents-2014-to-2015
  2. https://www.workingfamilies.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Modern-Families-Index-2016.pdf
  3. http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Parents-Work-and-Care-2016.pdf
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22 Comments

  1. Laura
    July 11, 2017 / 6:21 am

    Wow! This is shocking!!!

  2. July 12, 2017 / 7:14 am

    Such a great post Georgia. As a HR pro having worked with hundreds of managers and employees over the years on flexible working requests I know how hard this is in real life. Your summary of stats is so helpful. It will remind people how tough it is. We’re all doing a great job juggling everything. Let’s hope organisations and employers realise the benefits of supporting working families more soon. Xx #fortheloveofBLOG

  3. The Mummy Bubble
    July 12, 2017 / 7:25 am

    Love the infographic! I totally agree with you about flexible working. There should be way more opportunities for this. Xx #fortheloveofBLOG

  4. July 12, 2017 / 8:07 am

    Depressing numbers. In 2017. Change has to be on its way! #fortheloveofblog

  5. July 12, 2017 / 9:42 am

    I ended up not going back to work after the children came home, because I just couldn’t see how to balance being a Headteacher with having 2 primary aged children – there is so little opportunity for Headteachers to have flexible working which makes me so very sad as I loved my job! Maybe things will change in the future and I’ll be able to go back! #fortheloveofBLOG

  6. July 12, 2017 / 12:43 pm

    These numbers didn’t shock me because I’m in America and our numbers are much worse. No parenting leave, very few flexible jobs with no requirement to offer it after working a certain amount of time. #fortheloveofBLOG

  7. July 12, 2017 / 1:32 pm

    There is definitely a prejudice against working mothers. I don’t know if it was my insecurities or not but I certainly noticed after I went back to work (after first baby) I suddenly became invisible. Previous to having children I was always getting ushered into additional responsibilities and suggested to apply for senior roles. After having a child there was none of this – why? Was it that I was seen as less committed or the fact that I only wanted to work part time? This contributed to my decision to have a career break after second baby x
    #ForTheLoveofBLOG

  8. July 12, 2017 / 1:48 pm

    I absolutely love this post. Ive written about my struggles to find flexible working or any kind of working that suits my family and role as a mother before. It’s so difficult. Much more difficult than it needs to be. That infographic is really informative. Thanks so much for sharing this! #fortheloveofBLOG

  9. July 12, 2017 / 4:19 pm

    I LOVE this post. Well, I don’t love that this inequality and issues exist, but I love that you’re bringing them to light. We really need to talk about the issues that working mums face more and what can be done to better support us. Too many women drop out of the workforce because of childcare costs/lack of flexible working/lack of support. #fortheloveofBLOG

  10. July 12, 2017 / 5:13 pm

    I think flexible working is so important for families and it’s shocking how tough things still are for mothers returning to work, and fathers. I do not want my girls being unable to return to careers that they have built up if they have children, because there is no way they can hold them down due to the lack of flexible working. I’m so hoping with the fights going on like Mother Pukka’s changes will be made. #fortheloveofBLOG

  11. July 12, 2017 / 10:39 pm

    I love and hate this post in roughly equal measure: i love how you’ve written it and brought such inequality to light, but I hate the facts themselves. I’ve more or less lived this too. Thank you for opening this discussion. The bit the makes me shake my head is the idea that mums are somehow less reliable. Isn’t the opposite true? If you want something done, give it to a mum – we’ll get it done because we know how to multitask and make things happen! #fortheloveofblog

  12. July 12, 2017 / 11:05 pm

    Flexible working is so important for families, and I didnt know the statistics were as bad as this! It’s quite shocking!

  13. July 13, 2017 / 2:33 pm

    Also American…stunning statistics, but like Heather said, it is worse over here! I don’t think one source (men/corporations/etc) are to blame. I do think there is a mindset that we (mothers) have that tells us to “do it all”…probably why we are always so stressed and tired!

    #fortheloveofblog

  14. July 13, 2017 / 3:03 pm

    I’m shocked the number of jobs over £20k that are part time is so low. I know a fair few people who work part time. But I also know people who’ve given up their careers because they weren’t flexible. I have to say that I’m not surprised about the less committed at work thing. When I went back as a working mum that’s what I felt. I liked my job, but I loved my daughter more, and I honestly felt motherhood changed me at work – work was suddenly not as important as it used to be. I was on edge, nervous, and not really wanting to be there, especially when my daughter was ill. So I guess I personally was less committed and it’s why I left in the end! But, I’m probably in the minority because financially that was ok for us. Great post #FortheloveofBLOG

  15. July 13, 2017 / 8:29 pm

    I’m currently off sick after catching a bug from Ben but I realised how often he is sick since I went back in January. Thank god for sick pay – but thats running low and I’ve got the rest of the year to go… eek! #fortheloveofBLOG

  16. July 13, 2017 / 10:12 pm

    Sadly I’m not shocked by these stats at all… this has basically been us for the last year or so. My part time wages are less than our childcare bill, even with 3-year-funding! I work because I need to for my sanity, and because I need to for mortgage purposes etc. Flexibility is still a million miles from where it needs to be, but on that note I’d like to give a shout out to Mr C’s employer – Axa Travel Insurance. They have offered Mr C every ounce of flexibility he/we could have ever wished for. They regularly let him work from home if/when the kids are sick, allow him to work flexible hours when he needs to for the kids, and have agreed for him to become a permanent home worker when we move next week (nearly 100 miles, no chance of commuting!). They have never once treated him unfavourably for needing the flex, and in fact have been hugely supportive of it. We need more companies like them, for sure!! #fortheloveofBLOG

  17. July 14, 2017 / 8:12 am

    Fab post. I love the infographic. I had to leave my career as a tutor at the end of my maternity leave because my employer wouldn’t budge on my flexible working request. #fortheloveofBLOG

  18. July 14, 2017 / 3:04 pm

    This is really insightful and I can imagine the difficulties of a working mum especially with dealing with flexibility and child care X #fortheloveofblog

  19. July 14, 2017 / 7:09 pm

    I had to fight to get my flexible working request when I returned from maternity leave. It was declined originally but the reasons were truly awful. It literally took the threat of a tribunal and help from an outside source in who is an HR professional to allow me to return to work in a way that was manageable. It left a bitter taste and I left in the end. My current employers are actually brilliant though, so it can be done! #fortheloveofBLOG

  20. July 15, 2017 / 5:32 am

    I haven’t had to face this world just yet as I have been a stay at home mum for the past 8 years. Once my daughter starts school in a year though I need to get back to work and I’m always keeping a look out to see what opportunities there are and so far I haven’t found a single thing that fits around school hours in my area and I would need to put the children into after school clubs, which is part of the reason I started blogging. I now have a year to see if I can make a living from it. There definitely needs to be more flexibility in the workplace.
    #fortheloveofBLOG

  21. July 15, 2017 / 12:18 pm

    Such an interesting post Kelly and so many thought provoking stats. I think this post will really resonate with a lot of your readers #fortheloveofBLOG

  22. July 18, 2017 / 12:37 pm

    Wow I had no idea that there was such prejudice against working mothers, I think I have been blissfully unaware in my little stay at home bubble. Such a great informative post #fortheloveofblog

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