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Mums forced out of work due to lack of flexible jobs

Posted on from Changeboard

Nearly 20% of mothers are leaving their job due to a lack of flexibility. What needs to be done to retain women returning from maternity leave?

A worrying number of mums have had to leave the UK workforce due to flexible work requests being turned down by their employers.

In a survey of over 2,000 women by workingmums.co.uk, nearly 20% of mothers have had to leave their role. Some 12% of respondents said their employer did not even seem to consider their requests, with a quarter saying their appeal was turned down as it was not deemed a requirement under flexible working legislation.

Gillian Nissim, founder of workingmums.co.uk said: “We’ve come a long way and many now see the huge business benefits of creating a more family friendly workforce. Our survey shows 10% of women describe their job as extremely flexible, for instance.

“But there is still more to be done to create the kind of workplaces for people who need flexibility, for whatever reason. That means encouraging and supporting employers to implement flexible working so that they do not lose employees who typically have years of experience in their roles. “

For women currently on maternity leave, 35% said they’ve had a flexible working request turned down, with 68% of those women feeling the rejection was unjustified. Only 5% of those women had a successful appeal against their employer’s decision. 

Some 41% of women on maternity leave said a refusal of flexible working would leave them unable to return to their job, yet 50% said they had not discussed flexible working before going on leave.

Workingmums.co.uk is calling on employers to promote flexible working as a benefit for both their company and their employees, and is also calling for mothers to have greater legal protection.

Nissim added: “We would like to see more efforts made both to promote the case for flexible working more widely and to educate women about their rights with regard to the legislation. 

“We would also like policymakers to look at the case for reinstating a statutory right of appeal if a request is turned down as this would send an important message to employers that they must give serious consideration to requests and not just dismiss them out of hand.”

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