The research by job and community site Working Mums surveyed 2,500 mothers on their views on work and childcare. Almost half (48%) said the lack of available flexible jobs was a barrier to returning to work, with 40% saying lack of appropriate flexible jobs is also an issue.
In an additional online poll, 86% of women retraining said they were doing so because of the difficulty of finding a flexible role in their sector. The remaining 14% said they were retraining because their job required lots of travel.
Crucially, 58% of survey respondents said they would accept a job which paid less than they had earned before in return for flexible working conditions. In addition, 66% said homeworking for some of the working week would encourage them to work full-time.
Other factors which would encourage them include: flexible working hours (64%); finding a job close to home (53%); job satisfaction (45%); working term time only (54%); understanding employer (40%); cheaper childcare (44%) and compressed hours (38%).
Working mums found that 45% of those working returned to the same job they were in before maternity leave. Of those, 52% returned on a part time basis, with 17% working with another kind of flexibility and 31% returning to full time employment.
Of those working part time, 53% do their agreed hours only, while 47% do between one and eight hours extra work per week. 73% of working mums log on after work hours to check emails, 50% do so regularly.
Some 71% of parents who are working say they consider their job to be either flexible, very flexible or extremely flexible, but 56% are earning less than they were before they had children.
Of the respondents currently on maternity leave, 44% had not yet discussed flexible working hours with their employer, 12% had already agreed flexible working, 10% were negotiating and 19% had their request refused. Only 15% did not want flexible working.
Gillian Nissim, founder of Workingmums.co.uk, said: “Often these women have years of experience and have been working at senior levels. Organisations are missing out on a huge resource if they don’t look seriously at ways to retain women. Our research consistently shows lack of flexible jobs is the main barrier to mums getting back to work.”
She added: “The most progressive employers have significantly improved their recruitment and retention figures for women through addressing this issue and some have initiated innovative programmes for women who have taken career breaks. Other employers are still failing to understand how such initiatives are mutually beneficial.”
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