Workplaces are not “mother-friendly” according to a survey which indicates that flexible work hours and cheaper childcare would help them get back into the labour force after having a child.
The survey, by RecruitIreland.com in collaboration with website mummypages.ie, also found 61% of mothers said they experienced financial difficulty while on maternity leave and 91% said they could not afford to live on the state maternity benefit of €230 a week.
In addition, 43% of those surveyed said they had delayed having children because of poor maternity benefits and a similar percentage — 45% of respondents — said the cost of childcare had prevented them from going back to work.
While 77% of those questioned said they had returned to work after having had a baby because of financial necessity, just 29% of respondents said they were interested in developing their career after having a child.
Just 7% of those surveyed said they loved their job and couldn’t wait to return to work, while 44% said they would not go back to work unless they had to, and 36% of those surveyed said they had less career ambition since having a baby.
The perception of poor work/ life balance among the more than 1,000 mothers surveyed is clear, with 95% of working mothers saying they would apply for a new role with flexible working hours and better maternity benefit. Two thirds of those surveyed said they wanted more flexible working hours in their job and just under half of those questioned said they would like part-time or shorter working weeks, while one-in-five would be happy to job-share.
However, while 69% of respondents returned to work full-time, 19% said they had returned to a shorter working week thanks to using parental leave and holiday days, while 12% of those surveyed said they had got the part-time hours they were looking for.
The return to work after maternity leave also posed other difficulties. Two thirds of the mothers surveyed said they worried about their childcare arrangement and 27% said they were worried their role at work would not be the same on their return.
A similar percentage of respondents said they felt less confident going back to work, with one in five worried their maternity leave replacement had done a better job in their absence, while 15% of those surveyed said they had returned to find a backlog of work that needed to be cleared.
In addition, 88% of working mothers admitted to feeling guilty, triggered by instances such as a child being ill. Some 95%, said that the Government should introduce a childcare tax credit in the next budget for working parents to help cover costs. On childcare options, 32% of those questioned said they used a childminder, 31% used a creche, and 27% turned to a family member.
Fathers were also surveyed, with half of respondents stating their workplace offered paternity leave — up 10% on the comparable figure last year. However, 18% had taken parental leave, down almost 50% from the previous year’s figure, and just 54% of respondents said their workplace allowed flexibility on the issue.
Laura Haugh of mummypages.ie said the Government needed to tackle the cost of childcare as a return to work for most mothers was “financially necessary”.
According to Sinéad Johnson, Commercial Manager for RecruitIreland.com: “Flexible working options to include working from home on some days, starting earlier and finishing earlier, working mornings only, moving to a part-time hours or job-sharing can all go a long way to easing the childcare and emotional stress that mums are feeling. Employers should be cognisant that in recruiting the best talent for new roles, mums are an excellent resource pool often overlooked.
"Small businesses in particular can get quality, experienced mums who can hit the ground running at half the price by employing them on a part-time basis. This could equate to the same salary as full-time junior member of staff but with better or similar output levels. We’re delighted to offer any advertiser who wishes to advertise a part-time or job-share role over the month of September a 15% discount in an effort to source more roles for parents returning to work.”
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