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Last Updated: Monday, 10 September 2007, 23:11 GMT 00:11 UK
Mothers 'denied flexible working'
London commuters
Some say that too much emphasis is put on office-based work
About nine out of 10 mothers find it difficult to get a job with sufficient flexibility when they want to return to work, a survey suggests.

The research by workingmums.co.uk also found that many mothers felt employers were unsympathetic towards them.

And more than two thirds of the 600 people polled said they would not take jobs that did not suit their skills purely to get flexibility.

Experts argued that flexible working was more available than ever.

There has never been a time when employers were more aware of the benefits of offering more flexibility to workers
Mike Emmott

"I would have been surprised if the survey had found that working mothers were finding things easy. It's a tough job and it always will be," said Mike Emmott, an employer relations advisor at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

"But I'm surprised that the responses were not more positive. There has never been a time when employers were more aware of the benefits of offering more flexibility to workers."

Things improving

Of the 600 people surveyed, 90% said they found it hard to find flexible work.

More than half (55%) said that they would prefer to work from home with only 6% saying that this did not appeal to them.

However, in a sign that flexibility is sought, 39% said that they would like to work from home some of the time.

"There's a huge pool of talent and years of experience that could be tapped should the right jobs be made available," said Gillian Nissim, founder of the website which specialises in advertising jobs for professional women.

We need employers to think more creatively
Gillian Nissim

"The survey showed that mothers are hungry for work and often have an impressive range of skills and experience to offer employees but feel that there is a distinct lack of opportunities to utilise them.

"Things are improving but there's still a perception that there's a reluctance to offer flexibility.

"We need employers to think more creatively and to get beyond the mindset that a job requires someone to be in the office five days a week."

'Stay competitive'

Earlier this year the Equal Opportunities Commission produced its own research in which it found "a huge waste of talent" across the workforce - among both men and women.

"It's deeply worrying to see that - because of lack of access to flexible work - women continue to work below their capacity, squandering a vast amount of potential in the UK economy," said EOC chair Jenny Watson.

"Many good employers, large and small, who want to stay competitive are already extending flexibility to all their staff - and it's time for more to follow their lead."

The issue of childcare featured heavily in workingmums.co.uk report, with 95% saying it was "very expensive" with 43% paying more than 250 a month in childcare fees.

Other findings included 74% of respondents saying they felt guilty about leaving children in childcare while they work and 61% concerned that their children would suffer as a result.

Just more than half of women surveyed said they would rather stay at home but worked because of financial necessity.

However almost three quarters of respondents said that work boosted their self-esteem.

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