Working mothers reach 20 year high but spend 90 mins a day more than fathers on chores/childcare

by | Jul 30, 2022

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The latest ONS data finds that more than three in four mothers with dependent children (75.6%) are in work, reaching its highest level in the equivalent quarter over the last 20 years (66.5% in 2002), and is higher than either women or men without dependent children, as it has been since 2017.

The data also shows that when it comes to special working arrangements, such as flexible or term-time hours, a third (33.3%) of mothers reported an agreed special working arrangement in their job, compared with 23.6% of fathers.

In March 2022, employed women with dependent children spent more time on unpaid childcare (an average of 85 minutes per day) and household work (an average of 167 minutes per day) than employed men with dependent children (56 and 102 minutes per day, respectively).

During the height of the pandemic we saw this balance even out,  but now employed women with dependent children also spent more time on all work combined (an average of 496 minutes per day working from home, working away from the home, on unpaid childcare and unpaid household work) than employed men with dependent children (481 minutes per day).

Commenting on the data, Andrew Mobberley, Head of Sales at Broadstone, a leading independent pensions and employee benefits consultancy, said: “It is great news that the proportion of mothers in the workplace is rising and a clear sign that we are modernising our employment practises to make it easier for women to return to the labour market after childbirth.

“However, there is still a clear gender imbalance in the total workload that mothers are bearing once they return to the workforce. Mothers are typically spending more than an hour and a half every day on household chores and unpaid childcare than fathers.

“Despite a third of mothers having special working arrangements, a higher proportion than fathers, the extra burden of unpaid housework and childcare is clearly likely to take its toll on their professional and personal lives.

“Becoming a parent fundamentally changes how people view their working lives and it is crucial that employers recognise this. Taking steps like increasing flexibility of hours, working from home or implementing term-time hours to support parents deal with their childcare arrangements are important.

“Employers can go even further to support their staff too like offering working parents emergency childcare help should a sudden, unexpected need arise. We are also seeing some employers looking at on- and off-site summer camps to support parents or partnering with third-parties to make it easier and less stressful for mothers and fathers to find these resources themselves.

“Providing both financial and mental wellness initiatives that help parents manage additional demands on their time are other important ways that businesses can recognise the value of their staff. “Attracting and retaining talent in such a competitive labour market is increasingly important for businesses to flourish.

“This means employers need to ensure they are supporting employees throughout their different life stages – not just through competitive remuneration but with a complete package of benefits that boosts financial and mental wellbeing in the workplace. These steps can help employers reduce absenteeism and turnover, boost productive and ensure a healthier, happier workforce.”

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