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March of the Mummies

11 November, 2022

This article’s title sounds like a Halloween film. But what’s even scarier? The fact that mothers are being forced out of the workplace and into poverty by business and government policies.

The UK has the second most expensive childcare system in the developed world, with 62% of parents paying the same or more for childcare as their rent or mortgage. Our paternity leave offering is the least generous in Europe, whilst statutory maternity pay accounts for less than half of the national minimum wage. And parents seeking to balance work with childcare commitments still have limited options, with only 10% of jobs being advertised as part time.

This has a cost for parents, but for businesses too. Expensive childcare means talented employees are forced to give up their jobs because it’s cheaper to stay at home. Recruiters who do not offer flexible hours limit their talent pool and may overlook the best candidates – even when a job could easily work part-time.

Mums have had enough. On 29th October, over 15,000 mothers and families took to the streets. Their demands, developed by campaign group Pregnant then Screwed, include making all jobs flexible by default, and offering ring-fenced and properly paid maternity and paternity leave.

There’s no reason for businesses to wait to adopt these measures until they’re passed into law. Those who move first will get the biggest reputational, recruitment and retention benefits. Increasing shared parental pay in line with maternity pay, making jobs flexible by default and supporting campaigns to increase governmental childcare funding are simple actions that could make a massive difference – for parents, families and your bottom line.

By Sarah Howden

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