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Surveys show the need for more flexible working for mums and dads

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.

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