Lack of flexible working drains £4.9bn from economy

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A lack of flexible work is costing the Yorkshire and Humber economy up to £4.9 billion due to talented women staying at home, a report claims.

According to a new report from Digital Mums and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), almost 7 in 10 (68 per cent) of so-called stay-at-home mothers (SAHMs) living with children aged 18 and under in the UK would go back to work in some capacity if flexible working around childcare was an option.

Furthermore more than a third of working mothers living with children would work additional hours. Currently, more than 263,000 mothers are out of the labour force in the Yorkshire and the Humber region.

By tapping into this current lost talent, businesses in the region embracing flexible work could benefit from a total of 5.8 million hours more work a week - the equivalent of 155,000 additional full time workers - providing the local economy with a £4.9 billion boost to output each year, Digital Mums claimed. Despite laws introduced by the Government in 2014 to allow everyone the legal right to request flexible working, 60 per cent of mothers still do not have access to flexible work.

Of Yorkshire mothers, almost three quarters feel they’ve had to compromise their work skills and experience in some way in order to find work that works around family.

Only 12 per cent of mums living in Yorkshire and The Humber with children aged 18 and under felt their skills had not been compromised at all to find a flexible job around childcare.

Kathryn Tyler, co-founder and co-CEO, Digital Mums, said: “In 2016, women shouldn’t have to choose between a rewarding career and motherhood. While for some mums staying at home is a choice, our report shows that for a larger number their hands are tied because of a lack of flexible work options. Shockingly, for those who do find flexible work, it comes at a cost. In today’s highly connected world, there’s simply no need for businesses to stick to an archaic 9-5 desk policy. We need a societal shift to embrace flexible working as the ‘norm’ and not the exception. This will not only help mums find rewarding careers that fit their skills and family life; it will help businesses tap into an amazing talent pool.”