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

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

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?



Comments 40

  1. 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

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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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!


  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. Brilliant infographic! I’m not shocked by these stats as I have found that if I want to go part-time then I will have to take on a more junior role on a lot less more money. Luckily for me I have managed to build-up my freelance work and if it continues to grow I should be on a okay part-time role rate. Not what I earned before granted but better than what I have been offered and also at least it is flexible!

    1. Post

      Thank you! It’s so tough isn’t it. I think the only way to get a flexible job is to already be in a job and have the right business to let you go part time. Hardly any jobs are advertised as part time and you’re so right about the level of jobs! It basically means that even if I wanted to move jobs (which I luckily don’t), then it would be near to impossible for me.

  19. This is a global problem. We face the same thing in the States. I am lucky as a teacher as run the same schedule as my daughter so I don’t have to pay for childcare but when she is sick it is really hard to decide who stays home. #fortheloveofblog

  20. Things have and have not changed much since I was a young mum. I had a good support base as my parents lived very near and were willing to help out for the years that I worked but then when I gave up work others seemed to think it strange that I wasn’t working. I was never quite sure just what society actually thought we mums should be doing.

  21. I wish any of this shocked me. My employers are super flexible but any sickness or change in hours due to him starting school is down to me. I have to change everything again because I earn the least. Child rearing is still very much my responsibility as it’s the only thing that makes fiscal sense #fortheloveofBLOG

  22. Wow! this is an eye opener. When I had my 5th child I had the choice to go back to my part time job in a bank which was very good pay, but not family friendly. Or go self employed and follow my dream of working with kids and being at home for my family. I did the second of course!#fortheloveofBLOG

  23. Such an interesting post. I’m a part time working mum (currently on maternity leave with my second baby) and work three days a week. For me it’s the perfect balance. I’ve been incredibly lucky to be able to work flexibly but it’s shocking so many don’t have the option. x

  24. This sort of thing infuriates me. There are so many issues regarding lack of access to flexible working, the cost of childcare, and a culture that expects mums to do the majority of childrearing. So much needs to change – thanks for highlighting it. #fortheloveofBLOG

  25. I can totally relate to everything you’ve written here. We couldn’t afford for me to go back to work full time so, even though I was the main wage earner in our family, I now only work 2 days a week. Good job my OH has had a pay rise. But that still doesn’t cover our loss of earnings.

  26. Great infographic. Although these stats are shocking, sadly they don’t surprise me. Unfortunately on my return to work I wasn’t offered the part time hours I needed to make ends meet comfortably so I had to settle for 2 days instead of three, because there just were not any other 3 day teaching positions available near me. So, my career is on a back burner while I raise my children. This is a sacrifice many mums have to make….why not dad’s? I can only hope that they are much better when my daughter goes out to work. #fortheloveofBLOG

  27. After all the suffragettes have gone through and the continuous determination to get equal rights for all. It’s sad that in 2018 we are still having to fight for our rights as women. #fortheloveofBLOG

  28. It took me 14 years to eventually get to the point where my job matches what we need as a family! I now work full time from home, and those full time hours are 100% flexible so I can do them whenever I want and wherever I want. I know I am very lucky but it has taken a lot of effort to get here. However, my family have to be constantly reminded that I work full time! If my other half comes home and states sarcastically “hmm…you’ve clearly been busy” when the dishwasher hasn’t been emptied and the house is a mess, he risks getting a punch in the face!!! #fortheloveofblog

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