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Last Updated: Friday, 6 February, 2004, 03:25 GMT
Mothers 'prefer to stay at home'
Family
Women say financial fears are keeping them at work
Three in five working mothers would stay at home with their children if they could afford to, a poll suggests.

Of those in work, only 12% said they wanted to pursue a challenging career while 60% said they were only back at work because of financial commitments.

Two fifths had sacrificed holidays or their own clothing needs to fund childcare, the study of 800 women for Prima Baby magazine found.

Since last April, parents have had the right to ask for more flexible working.

Paternity leave

Some 17% of mothers had asked for the right to work flexibly since the law was changed, according to the survey, carried out in association with the Department for Trade and Industry's Work-Life Balance Campaign.

Another 37% intended to ask to work flexibly in the future, with 72% saying flexible working would influence their decision on whether to go back to work.

Things have got better since the introduction of the new laws last April but there is still a long way to go
Julia Goodwin

The new law also gave the right to paid paternity leave and half of new fathers had taken or planned to take advantage of this, the study found.

Prima Baby editor Julia Goodwin said: "Things have got better since the introduction of the new laws last April but there is still a long way to go.

"Too many mums feel forced back to work, because they can't afford to stay at home, or want to work reasonable or flexible hours, but can't afford the childcare."

Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt said: "Balancing work and family life has always been incredibly difficult for parents, especially new mums.

"But the new rights we put in place last April offer parents more choice and support than ever before in getting the right balance for their families."

She said she was "especially pleased" new fathers were taking advantage of paid paternity leave.


SEE ALSO:
Plan to help back-to-work parents
26 Jan 04  |  Business
Ask the Expert: Childcare help
22 Jan 04  |  Business


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