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Wednesday, 29 August, 2001, 23:42 GMT 00:42 UK
UK business 'fails working mothers'
UK businesses are failing to attract mothers back into work, according to a new survey.

Hostility towards flexible working, lack of creches and a failure to recognise a "work/life balance" were found to be more pronounced in the private sector.

Only three per cent of private sector bosses offer childcare services, according to the survey for Human Resources magazine.

The public sector appears to be winning the work/life battle hands down

Morice Mendoza
Human Resources magazine
And only two-in-10 private sector organisations were found to formally recognise the work/life balance.

But the public sector was found to be far more working mother-friendly.

The survey suggested that 78% of public sector organisations attract at least three out of four women back to work after maternity leave.

The private sector attracted only 58% back to work with a 51% figure for FTSE 250 companies, the UK's biggest 250 companies.

Job sharing

Only a third of private sector companies offer support for workers who care for elderly relatives or children with "special needs".

Public sector workers are better catered for with the figures rising to a quarter (27%) and three quarters (76%) respectively.

There are a lot of middle-aged, middle-class men in the private sector

Ms A
Working mother
The survey's findings suggested that the public sector has successfully embraced flexible working hours and job sharing.

In the public sector 92% of organisations offer job share opportunities.

This is three times more than the private sector (27%), and far ahead of FTSE 250 organisations (16%).

Mother of two Ms A used to work for a FTSE 250 media company but moved jobs because of resistance to her working a four-day week.

'Middle-aged men'

She said: "A lot of FTSE companies feel obliged to be socially responsible, but they have adopted measures with an element of reluctance.

"There are a lot of middle-aged, middle-class men in the sector."

Morice Mendoza, editor of Human Resources, says: "The public sector appears to be winning the work/life battle hands down.

"As the demand for skilled workers increases, businesses operating in the private sector need to be more flexible in their bid to attract mothers back into the labour market."

The survey also found FTSE 250 organisations do not place high priority on paternity leave, with only 12% rating it as effective in redressing the work/life balance.

The BBC's Nicola Carslaw
"It seems one in ten rivate companies do not recognise the issue"

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