Mothers more likely to work during early years, report finds

Written by Tom Freeman on 1 November 2017 in News

More mothers with young children in employment but barriers remain, reports Growing Up in Scotland study

Toddler on the stairs - credit Richard Leeming

Mothers of young children in Scotland are increasingly likely to be in paid work, a major study has found.

The Growing Up in Scotland study, which compares two cohorts of children, has found the number of mothers in work when their child was 10 months old increased over a six-year period.

In 2015, only one in five mothers of five-year-olds had not been in paid work since their child was born, compared with one in four mothers with a five-year-old in 2009/10.


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However, the mothers told the ScotCen researchers barriers to employment remain, including a lack of suitable jobs and childcare issues.

Line Knudsen, Senior Researcher at ScotCen, said: “A rise in the number of women with young children in work is good news for the Scottish Government who have committed to supporting women to return to work after childbirth.

“However, there is no room for complacency, and it’s important to acknowledge that mothers who want to return to work still face barriers to doing so – especially younger mothers, single mothers and those with fewer qualifications.”

Global studies show daughters of working mothers are more likely to have better careers and higher pay than those of mothers who stayed at home, but there have also been studies into how having both parents in inflexible full time employment could have an impact on a child's attachment-based emotional and cognitive growth.

Knudsen said any attempt to support mothers of young children in the workplace should provide family-friendly working practices, “such as being able to work part-time or to work from home without penalties”.

Minister for Employability and Training Jamie Hepburn said: “This study shows that over a six year period the number of mums returning to work after having a child increased.

“Clearly there is still more that we can do to ensure no-one is forced to choose between their career [and] their family responsibilities, and that those looking for work can find work.

“That is why we have committed to implementing pilot schemes to reduce the burden of upfront childcare costs and we will almost double free early learning and childcare.

“Our pregnancy and maternity discrimination working group will continue to look at how we can remove any barriers to work, promote the benefits of flexible working and provide information on employment rights to pregnant workers.”

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