Could employers offer more flexible working conditions for new parents?

Living in the twenty first century is pretty hard core, especially when one has a family to nurture and provide for. Gone are the days of the stay-at-home mum who spends her days cooking, cleaning and reading stories to the children.

The fact is, most families can’t afford to run on a single salary – mums and dads have to work.

Juggling family and work (whether it’s full time or part time) is really tough, on both mums and dads. One way that employers can make life a bunch easier for parents is to offer flexible working arrangements. You’d think that mums and dads would jump at the chance for a little flexibility at work. A new survey by shows that this is not the case.

While women are eager for a little leniency re the work/family dynamic – with 62 per cent willing to accept a less well paid job in return for more flexibility and 58 per cent of women actually earning less than they did before they had children – very few men were interested in flexible working conditions. Four per cent of partners worked part time and 16 per cent had some other kind of flexible working arrangement.

Interestingly over 35 per cent of women, who are also more commonly primary caregivers (especially to younger children), are the main breadwinner in families (up 5% on last year) – making the need for flexible working conditions all the more important.

So, what exactly would flexible working conditions entail?

When mums participating in the research were asked what made for a family friendly employer, the majority said one offering full-time flexible jobs. When asked what would encourage them to work full time, 76 per cent said homeworking part of the time.

Most (55 per cent) working mums who went back after maternity leave did so on a part-time basis. And some good news: most mums described their employers as flexible with 12 per cent describing them as extremely flexible.

Only 29 per cent of mums described their employers as not very flexible or inflexible.

Leaving a baby with a carer is one of the most difficult things a mum has to do. You carry your baby around in you tummy of 9-ish months, then he’s born utterly helpless and you have to defend his right to exist by feeding him, keeping him warm and teaching him to sleep… and then you have to give him to someone else to look after. Someone who is not you. Like I said; hard core.

The decision and its application is a whole bunch less traumatic if an employer can be flexible enough to allow mums the time to… be mums!

What is your experience of going back to work after maternity leave? Do you have a flexible employer?