October 7, 2016
We may all be aware that the way to attract and retain working parents – particularly mothers – is by offering them flexible working options, especially with the growing body of evidence that the gender gap increases among working women with children. But although it’s still a challenge for any working women who aspires to moving up the corporate ladder, they usually have more options than their lower paid colleagues who can’t afford expensive childcare. This is why it’s all the more depressing to learn that it’s only the high earners who are being given the option of flexible working. According to research carried out by charity Working Families to promote National Work Life Week (Oct 3-7), high earning parents who bank more than £70,000 a year are 47 percent more likely to work flexibly than those earning between £10,000 and £40,000.
The charity’s poll showed more than two thirds (69 percent) of working parents who earned more than £70,000 worked in a flexible way, while less than half (47 percent) of those earning more modest salaries between £10,000 and £40,000 worked flexibly.
Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families, said:
“Families need time as well as money to thrive. But one shouldn’t depend on the other. We know flexible working makes business sense across the salary spectrum, so why should only the people who earn the most be able to reap the rewards? We want jobs at all levels to be advertised as flexible. And this should be the norm, rather than the exception. Everyone has the right to request flexible work patterns so we hope more employees – and employers – will use today’s status as Go Home On Time Day as an opportunity to explore the benefits.”
The charity’s poll also showed the majority of working parents regularly put in extra hours at work and that inflexible work commitments regularly interfered with precious family moments or essential parenting tasks.
More than half (55 percent) of working parents polled put in extra unpaid hours each week. A quarter said they worked at least five extra unpaid hours a week. More than two thirds (68 percent) said their job interfered with their ability to take part in school or nursery milestones for their children, such as attending performances or parents’ evenings.
Nearly two thirds (62 percent) said work detrimentally affected the time they had to help children with homework. More than half (56 percent) said it interfered with their ability to put their children to bed. One in five (20 percent) said this happened more than three times a week.
Commented Jacques de la Bouillerie, MD of Coople: “It’s completely unreasonable for employers not to offer staff flexible working options, particularly when the very nature of the modern day working environment is built around society’s flexible lifestyle. A recent Work Foundation report found benefits for employers offering flexible working include increased productivity, employee well-being and satisfaction and talent retention and attraction. With unemployment at record lows, employers have to offer un-stigmatised flexible working options or risk employees walking or a lack of suitable candidates.”
Working Families is appealing to businesses and employers, including the public sector and Government, to use its ‘happy to talk flexible working’ strapline on job adverts. This shows that employers have genuinely thought about the best way to get a job done and opens up opportunities to a wider talent pool, hungry for the right job offering hours to suit life outside work. Businesses are much more likely to get the right person for the job and reap the rewards of increased productivity and engagement.