Belfast Telegraph

Fears raised over women with young children 'locked out of work'

Women with young children are a third less likely to be in work than men in the same position, a new study finds.

Research by the TUC revealed that fewer than two out of three mothers with children under the age of four were in a job, compared with over nine out of 10 fathers of pre-school age youngsters.

The employment rate for mothers increases as their children get older, rising to over 80% for those with secondary school age boys or girls, according to the union organisation.

Regional differences were discovered, with fewer than six out of 10 mothers of pre-school age children in London, the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside in work, compared with almost seven out of 10 in Wales, the South West, East of England and Scotland.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "It's worrying that so many women with young children are locked out of work because they have kids. We need to share parenting more equally, or else the gender pay gap will take decades to close.

"We also need to do more to support working mums. That means making sure that affordable childcare is available from the end of maternity leave to the start of school.

"We need vastly more good quality part-time and flexible jobs. Employers have to be flexible too, like when kids start school and are on shorter hours for the first few weeks."

Adam Marshall, acting director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "While businesses and unions may not agree on everything, both believe the case for more action on childcare is clear. Too many parents, in particular women, are losing out on opportunities at work, too many firms are losing talented employees, and the UK economy as a whole is paying the price.

"Good, affordable childcare is essential business infrastructure, and we need to look at new ways to drive costs down and drive provision up all across the UK."