Fewer Employers Willing to Hire Working Mums in 2011
Most businesses recruiting this year would not consider hiring a working mother, due to concerns about commitment and cost, new research has found.
A survey of 1,000 UK businesses by serviced office space provider Regus found that 43 per cent planned to recruit this year, of which only 26 per cent planned to employ women who have children (compared to 38 per cent last year).
The main concerns of respondents were that working mothers would show less commitment and flexibility than other staff, that they would leave to have another child or that women returning to the workplace after an extended absence could have out-of-date skills.
Regus regional director, Celia Donne, said that the difficult economic conditions have led some employers to return to old prejudices as they focus on productivity.
“Some businesses are still guilty of applying old-fashioned misgivings to the contemporary work environment. But we were surprised how many employers felt this way when flexible working is becoming so much more popular, and it’s so easy to offer it.”
Marsden Rawsthorne solicitor, Lisa Clarke, said that it is illegal for employers to discriminate against candidates who have childcare responsibilities.
“If an employer uses this as part of their criteria, then they risk indirect sex discrimination claims, regardless of whether they give the job to another woman or a man without childcare responsibilities.”
“We would advise employers against asking women at interviews if they intend to have more children, because this may be evidence to support a potential claim of sex discrimination if the female applicant is unsuccessful.”
Small-business owner Caroline Wylie of Virtually Sorted said that maternity legislation can deter small businesses from recruiting female staff altogether.
“Employment laws tend to stop small firms from expanding as businesses fear they will fall foul of them.”