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Employers' changes to working patterns undermine parents, finds Working Families

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Employers are imposing changes to working patterns which undermine parents’ ability to combine work and childcare, according to Working Families.

Its annual report on issues faced by parents calling its helpline, found childcare costs and tax credit changes are forcing parents out of work and pregnancy and maternity discrimination "continues unabated".

The report, based on the 3,000 parents and callers contacting Working Families in 2011, highlights concerns suggests employers are less willing to consider a variety of working patterns and are imposing changes on their workforce. Callers reported that they could not afford to return to work after childbirth, because of high childcare and travel costs, while parents of disabled children could not find any affordable, appropriate childcare. Eight per cent of calls in 2011 concerned pregnancy and maternity discrimination, including callers dismissed when they told their employer they were pregnant, demoted on their return to work, and unfairly selected for redundancy. A caller received a P45 (notice of dismissal) on handing her employer her MATB1 (notice of pregnancy).

Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families, said: "Parents trying to make work pay are facing impossible choices because of reduced state support for childcare and a lack of understanding from employers. Flexible working is good for business but the message isn't getting through: employers are imposing changes to working patterns which aren't compatible with childcare and which will force parents out of work.

"We continue to be shocked by the blatant discrimination against pregnant women and those on maternity leave by some dinosaur employers."

HR magazine is the media partner for Working Families' Top Employers for Working Families. Click here for more information.