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Bosses missing out on talent by being reluctant to offer flexible working

Benchmark says too many employers are stuck in the mind-set that a good day’s work has to be 9am-5.30pm – meaning people with family commitments often struggle.

A survey by Sheffield-based recruitment company Benchmark reveals a staggering 92 per cent of people say finding a job with flexible hours to suit childcare is one of their biggest career concerns. People looking after elderly or sick relatives also struggle.

Louisa Harrison-Walker, director of Benchmark and a mother-of-two, said: “I am staggered by the number of women I speak to that are having to take jobs way below their capabilities because they are the only ones they can get to fit around childcare.

“In this day and age of remote technology surely we could start to be more accommodating? I am certain that employers are missing out on highly credible employees because they are not open to part time, slightly reduced hours or job shares.

“We know that parents face a very real struggle when getting back into work after having children. With four working mums and a dad in our own office, we had a rough idea of what to expect, but we know that other employers are not as forgiving when it comes to being a working parent.”

The Benchmark survey asked hundreds of people to rank their concerns regarding their return back to work and to highlight one thing that their employers could do to make it easier to be a parent and have a career at the same time.

The highest ranking concern was flexible hours to suit childcare not being available – 38 per cent of people ranking it their number one concern and an overwhelming 92 per cent of people put it in their top three concerns.

A quarter of people surveyed are worried they would not be offered part time hours, left with the choice of either not going back at all or having to go back full time.

The cost of childcare is also a serious concern for working parents with 19 per cent stating it was their main worry. Not a single person said that their main concern was not having the confidence to go back into their role.

Louisa added: “We thought that was very interesting as it implies capability and confidence key attributes in top employees.

“We believe that there is a serious lack of senior, challenging, part-time roles in the job market at the moment, and that some employers are simply brushing great employees under the carpet once they have had children.

“Results from our survey suggest that many parents are not offered the flexible working hours they need to accommodate the daily drop-offs and pick-ups. Many also feel like their late starts and early finishes are frowned upon by colleagues and management. Even though they feel they are highly focused at work and often pick up tasks in the evenings after the kids have gone to bed.

“Other results suggest that many parents feel like they are treated differently when they reduce their hours to part-time, and that they don’t feel as valued as full time employees.

“The working parents we surveyed also stated that they face a constant struggle in their attempt to prove to their employees that they still take their job as seriously as they did before they had children.”

Benchmark’s survey comes as the TUC’s annual women’s conference warned that most of the best-paid occupations in Britain are & lsquo;no-go’ areas for part-time workers.

Benchmark asked people for their top concern:

Flexible hours to suit childcare – 38 per cent

Part time hours not available – 26 per cent

The cost of childcare – 19 per cent

Trying to be the best mum and employee at the same time – 11 per cent

Unsupportive management/colleagues – 3 per cent

Unsupportive family/friends – 3 per cent

Having the confidence to go back into the role – 0 per cent

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