Articles

Working Mothers – can you really have it all?

In today’s society, women are constantly told we can have it all. We are encouraged to go out, chase our dreams, get to the top of our careers and certainly not put our occupations on hold to have children, and yes for women at the top of their game who are able to hire nannies, work from home and demand flexibility because they are at the pinnacle of the corporate structure this is more than achievable. Of course there are also the mothers that can’t wait to return to work, who are the main breadwinners or just don’t want to compromise their careers and that’s absolutely fine, I’m not judging anyone – we all should do what is right for us individually.

But what about the women looking for balance, who still want to work but also want to be the predominant carer to their child/ children, the women who earn average salaries, the women who if continue to work full time will pay at least half their salary if not more on childcare, the women that don’t have family or a support network nearby, the women who’s employers don’t offer flexibility or the option to work from home? How are we meant to have it all? The sad reality is often we can’t and this is why so many women have to reluctantly give up their careers after having children.

Having worked in the recruitment industry for over 8 years I have met with numerous amounts of women who are bright, capable and highly skilled but because of the time they have taken out of the workplace find it difficult to return to their careers. It shouldn’t have to be this way and if I could achieve only one thing during my own career it would be to encourage all employers to give flexible working a chance.

We must also consider the fathers too. Many Dad’s now choose to stay at home or cut their hours- they too should be offered the same flexibility I would expect for mothers.

I currently work 3 days per week which is set to increase to 3 full days and 2 school hour days when my youngest daughter starts her education in September and in school holiday time I will revert back to working 3 days. In addition to this I am also set up remotely at home to catch up on emails and keep abreast of things while I’m not in the office. Remote working also offers a solution should there ever be a time one of my girls is sick. I’m lucky aren’t I? Yes , I blinking well know I am and that’s why I work my little butt off and will always go above and beyond, logging on in the evenings and at weekends. Employers not open to offering flexibility are missing a trick, because take it from me if they do what they will get in return is an employee who will give a 100 % more. I feel grateful to have the hours and flexibility that I do, I know I would struggle to find it elsewhere which is why I work so hard. Employers should realise that with flexibility and understanding comes drive, passion and loyalty.

Here at Hamblin the majority of our roles are full time, we always ask clients if they will consider flexible working and for the right candidate they usually will. We do get the occasional part time position but unfortunately it’s not that often so if you’re looking for part time or flexible working please do not let that discourage you from registering with us. If we think you have the right skillset we will always submit your CV requesting that flexibility be considered.

Before you start thinking this is an advertising ploy to promote our business, feel free to register with any agency (although we are the best ha ha). Any employment business worth their salt should be proactive and forward thinking enough to pick up the phone and sell your fantastic attributes in return for some flexibility with hours.

What can you do if you’re currently employed and working full time but want flexibility?

Well, all employees have the legal right to request flexible working. This is known as making a Statutory Application. Flexible working rules are different in Northern Ireland please visit:-

https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/information-and-services/working-hours/flexible-working

What your employer should do once a statutory application is made:-

Employers must deal with requests in a ‘reasonable manner’.

Examples of handling requests in a reasonable manner include:

  • assessing the advantages and disadvantages of the application
  • holding a meeting to discuss the request with the employee
  • offering an appeal process

If an employer doesn’t handle a request in a reasonable manner, the employee can take them to an employment tribunal.

An employer can refuse an application if they have a good business reason for doing so, what you need to do is give them every reason not to refuse your application – make yourself the most valuable, indispensable member of staff you can. Don’t just ask for flexibility, make your employer see what they will get in return and how it could benefit their business. For example will an earlier/ later start/ finish/ weekend working mean you can offer a service that competitors can’t? Can you be set up remotely from home? Can you condense your hours over fewer days or take shorter breaks? Ask for your work emails to be set up on your phone and make a real effort to answer them outside of your working hours when you can.

In a nutshell be the employee that always goes the extra mile and gives a 110%. Be the employee your boss doesn’t want to lose.

So to conclude, Yes, you can have it all but only if you have the right salary, support and employer.

Whatever career choice you make, whether that is working full time, working flexibly or being a stay at home parent just know you’re doing an amazing job and to your children you are everything.