Cleaning up the F Word: It’s time to get real about flexible work for mums #WorkThatWorks

flexible work for mums

Take a look around you. You might have noticed them but never really seen them.

The lost sea of mums.

Everywhere I go, I meet mums who are stuck on the outside, with their noses pressed up to the window of work, wondering how on earth they can get back in.

But there’s one way to smash that window and have them leaping back in. And that’s through flexible work.  But here’s what’s stopping them –

7 in 10 UK employees want flexible work but over half fear it would be viewed negatively by their employer if they asked for it.

Yup, according to a new report from social media training experts Digital Mums, 7 in 10 (68%) UK employees would like to have flexible working hours but only 12% have asked their current employer for it…

We’re three years on from the introduction of laws by the Government to allow everyone the legal right to request flexible working, yet still, we find ourselves stuck behind the same window…despite the fact the benefits of flexible working can be reaped both by employer and employee. What does this mean?

I’m banking on the fact that it points to one thing and one thing only – this law might be well meaning, but just simply isn’t working given that over half (51%) of UK employees believe that asking for flexible working hours would be viewed negatively by their employer and a further 42% thin it would have a negative impact on their career.

There’s still a fear in the air.

This fear factor is most significant amongst millennials*, with two-fifths (40%) saying they’d be too nervous or worried to ask for flexible working hours despite 8 in 10 (77%) wanting this way of working.

But so long as this fear prevails, the UK economy is going to be losing out on some of the best talent – the talent WE have to offer. But why has flexible work become such a dirty word? After all, esearch commissioned as part of Digital Mums’ #WorkThatWorks Movement shows that 6 in 10 (61%) UK workers said they would be more productive if they could work flexibly and over two thirds (67%) said they would be more loyal to a business.

So what to we need to do?

Quite simply, we need to ‘Clean Up The F-Word’.

And you can do that by signing this petition to change the Government’s current definition of flexible working from something that  focuses solely on ‘a way of working that suits an employee’s needs’ to ‘work that works for employees and businesses’.

flexible work for mums

But this isn’t just about getting mums back into the workplace, as important as that is. It’s about so much more than that. According to Kathryn Tyler, co-founder Digital Mums which is behind this fantastic movement, : “We need employers to wake up to fact that flexible working is about attracting and retaining a generation of workers who are being failed by a rigid and restrictive ‘9 to 5 coat-on-chair’ culture.  That’s why we’re calling on everyone to sign our petition to change the Government’s definition so we can clean up the F-word and change the way we work forever.”

To voice your support and make a change, visit here

Or to be further inspired watch the campaign video here:

What’s your view on flexible working? Do you agree that changes need to be made in order for flexible work to be a viable solution for more of the workforce? Do share a comment below. And for more on finding flexible work as a mum see here.



  1. I was nervous about asking to go part time when returning to work after my first child and did face some challenges. However, luckily, I was granted my part time wish. Employers should want happy employees and that comes from flexibility 🙂

  2. I think this is a much bigger issue that just flexible working hours. A woman’s value in the workplace decreases once she has children… I was demoted and then sent my P45 when I went on maternity leave. I am not alone in this… I know several women who have had their clients taken away, been fired or lost out on major projects to less experienced staff once they became a mother. Ironically I rarely hear of similar stories from men who have become fathers.

  3. My mummy is very lucky that her employers support flexible working. She works condensed hours allowing her to be flexible with her childcare. It shouldn’t be a dirty word x

  4. I returned to work in January 2016 working a 30 hour week over 4 days. During my most recent appraisal when the topic of future promotion came up so did the words “the problem you’ve got is you only work 4 days a week’.
    If I’m honest, I’m not happy in my current job, for several reasons, but in order to get another job I would have to go back to a 5 day week which I’m just not prepared to do. It’s no wonder many women don’t return to work after having children.

  5. I had to leave my job which I loved after having my children as they would not let me do set shifts, they wanted me working 24-hour shifts and travelling so I had to leave. I have been looking at returning to work and it so hard finding a job to fit around childcare x

  6. The trouble with flexible working is that for the company involved it has to fit in with business needs. I used to work for a well-known supermarket and a lot of parents came asking for the holy grail of shifts which is 10-2 Monday to Friday, but that does not cover the needs of the business. Similarly, when I worked for an investment bank, they could not offer hours that I needed within childcare hours because the people we dealt with were either in the far east (meaning a 4am start time) or the States, meaning an evening shift.
    It does depend on the job role and I am now feeling the pain of a 0 hours contract and have no shifts come September as I work in a pre-school and may of the places have yet to be filled. I am lucky that I work from home too, so have a second income to rely on

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