Employees believe there is a ‘motherhood penalty’ in the workplace

Limerick businesswoman Karen O'Reilly.

A SURVEY among Irish workers has found that more than four in five people believe that there is a ‘motherhood penalty’ in the workplace.

The majority of people surveyed said they believe that workers who are mothers are penalised when it comes to career progression and treatment in the workplace.

Limerick founder of Employflex – the company which conducted the survey – Karen O’Reilly, said: “To avoid a mass ‘flexodus’ of mothers from the workplace, and while we are waiting for the new proposed cuts in childcare costs, offering authentic flexibility is key to retaining mothers in the workplace.”

“In a tight labour market, companies can gain competitive advantage and increase their diversity by getting access to this valuable bank of talent. We would urge employers to listen to these survey results which show that for many workers flexibility is top of the agenda when it comes to what they desire from a job.”

The survey found that almost two thirds of people believe that there is a ‘flexiglass ceiling’, meaning that requesting flexible work impacts on a worker’s career.

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A massive 74 per cent of people surveyed said that flexibility was the most important thing for them in the workplace, much higher than salary at 38 per cent. Company perks were bottom of the list at 6 per cent.

Four out of five people would move jobs for more flexibility, according to the survey. Although while two thirds of people would feel confident asking their boss for flexible work, nearly a third would not.

The types of flexible work people most want, according to the survey, are hybrid, reduced hours and remote working. More than a half of people said that their company has a policy on flexible work while 17 per cent don’t know if their company has one.

The survey found that 73 per cent of people said they work in a flexible workplace, which is up from 64 per cent in the same survey last year. This is also up significantly from the 53 per cent in the 2019 survey, before the pandemic.