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Flexible working denial harming mothers

18% of working mothers have been forced to quit because a flexible working request was rejected

Research from Workingmums.co.uk indicates employers may not be taking flexible working requests seriously. More than a quarter (26%) of working mothers have had a flexible working request denied, and 12% claim their employer did not even seem to consider their request at all. More than a quarter (27%) said the reason given for turning down the request was not compliant with flexible working legislation.

For women on maternity leave the figures were higher, with 35% of those who've had a flexible working request turned down saying it was rejected on non-compliant grounds. Two-thirds (68%) said they did not feel the rejection was justified. However, 79% did not appeal the decision.

Gillian Nissim, founder of Workingmums.co.uk, said that although progress has been made over the past decade there is still work to be done. "When I founded the site 10 years ago it was difficult to find flexible new jobs and many women who were working flexibly felt their careers had been sidelined,” she said. “We've come a long way and many now see the huge business benefits of creating a more family-friendly workforce. But there is still more to be done to create the kinds of workplaces that work for people who need flexibility, for whatever reason.”

Nissim added that more education on rights for working parents could be key. "We would like to see more efforts made both to promote the case for flexible working more widely and to educate women about their rights with regard to the legislation,” she said.

“We would also like policymakers to look at the case for reinstating a statutory right of appeal if a request is turned down as this would send an important message to employers that they must give serious consideration to requests and not just dismiss them out of hand."