February 9, 2016
A recent UKCES report suggested it is career and personal choices that explain the gender pay gap, because so many women work part time after children. Now a new report supports the view that the dearth of women in senior management roles is a result of a lack of access to promotion for those in a part time role. A survey conducted by Mothers Mean Business, claims that mothers returning to work are frustrated at the lack of opportunities to further their careers. The survey canvassed the views of women from a wide range of sectors and varying levels of seniority and found that nearly three quarters (71 percent) returned to work part-time after having their children but 83 percent feel there has been a potential or definite limit to their career options, 71 percent haven’t received a promotion since working part-time and 42 percent said they had received negative comments from colleagues after switching to part-time hours.
“Our survey provides concrete evidence that more needs to be done to promote the expertise and experience that working mothers can provide,” said Abbie Coleman, founder of MMB. “Women should be judged on and rewarded for their abilities, regardless of their parental status or how many hours they are contracted to work – something that MMB has been championing since the beginning.”
The survey also found that 51 percent had felt they’d taken a step back in their careers because they worked part-time hours, and only 19 percent of respondents
Coleman continues: “Our survey also pointed out some positives, namely that 23 percent of respondents believe their employers understand and embrace part-time working, while a further 17 percent said that their employers are making a concerted effort to adapt.”
Marie Walsh Employment Law Partner and Owner at Consilia Legal LLP agrees: “The results of this survey are a little disappointing but not surprising,” she said. “We all need to work together in the private and public sectors to redress the balance in respect of part time workers who often work more efficiently than their full time equivalents but with less recognition. Discrimination legislation does assist to a degree but overall it’s a general change in attitude that is required.”
Acas has produced a guide and Code of Practice on flexible working to help businesses and employers manage flexible working requests in a reasonable way and avoid any pitfalls. Acas Head of Equality Steve Williams explains why: “Many employers recognise that they can retain talented staff by offering a flexible approach to work and a healthy work life balance can help business success and growth.
“Businesses should treat all their workers fairly to help them stay within the law and avoid any potential legal action for pregnancy or maternity-related discrimination.”