A Proliferating Problem: Mothers Face Increased Unemployment as Flexible Work Policies Recoil

1 min read

Key Takeaways

  • As businesses revert to full-time office work, flexible working conditions have taken a hit, leading to decreased employment opportunities for working mothers.
  • Only 67% of single mothers are employed in Q1 of 2023.
  • Mothers face higher rates of unemployment than fathers.
  • 25% of women are ‘economically inactive’ compared to 16% of men.

The Post-Pandemic Work Conundrum

The COVID-19 pandemic redefined the conventional work paradigm, pivoting many companies towards remote and flexible work arrangements. But as the world returns to a semblance of pre-pandemic normalcy, an increasing number of employers are reinstating full-time office work, consequently eroding the flexible work benefits gained during the pandemic. This has triggered a decline in employment opportunities for working parents, particularly mothers.

The Disparity: Mothers vs. Fathers

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals stark discrepancies in employment rates between mothers and fathers. Mothers in their mid-20s to late 40s face significantly lower employment rates than fathers in the same age bracket. The issue intensifies when focusing on single mothers who face more substantial hurdles when seeking work that can accommodate their parental responsibilities. The data shows only 67% of single mothers are employed, contrasting with 94% of fathers in a couple.

Women Without Dependent Children: A Sharp Contrast

A significant divide is visible when comparing the employment rates of mothers with dependent children to those of women without such responsibilities. The average employment rate for mothers aged 16 to 49 is just 67%, in stark contrast to the 74% employment rate of women without dependents.

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Remote Work: The Saviour Turning Villain?

The retraction of remote work privileges could be instrumental in the declining employment rates for mothers. Remote work provided an avenue for many working mothers to better manage their professional and family responsibilities. However, the enforced return to traditional office environments appears to be limiting their capacity to balance these obligations effectively.

Melissa Gauge, Founder of SpareMyTime, highlights the need to tap into the potential talent pool of working mothers and to accommodate their need for flexibility. “We love employing parents, especially mums. They possess valuable qualities that should never be underestimated: they are masters of multitasking, resilient, adaptable, skilled negotiators, and time management experts,” she said.

SpareMyTime believes in the importance of promoting a healthy work-life balance, which includes flexible work arrangements. By enabling working mothers to maintain their careers, the economy and society at large stand to benefit. It is therefore imperative to build an environment where mothers are not forced to choose between their careers and their families.


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