A report just published into the ways in which working parents balance work and family life has found that many are penalised for working part time.

The 2019 Modern Families Index revealed that parents who work part time (most of whom are women) have a 21 per cent chance of being promoted within the next three years, compared to almost half (45 per cent) of their full-time counterparts.

This difference in promotion rates has a major impact on career progression for mothers, as The Index shows that the average mother waits two years more for promotion than the average father. This is the consequence of more mothers than fathers being in part-time work and threatens to frustrate recent efforts by government and some corporations to close the gender pay gap.

The Index also found that many parents grapple with unmanageable workloads owing, in part, to a workplace culture of presenteeism, with 78 per cent of parents working beyond their contracted hours.

Of those who put in extra work, 60 per cent reported that doing so was necessary to deal with their workload and over half (52 per cent) said that working extra hours was part of their organisation’s culture.

There is also an unmet demand for flexible working among parents: 86 per cent want to work flexibly but only 49 per cent of those surveyed do.

For more than a third (37 per cent) of parents, flexible working is not available in their workplaces, despite all employees having the statutory right to request flexible working arrangements.

The authors – work life balance organisations Working Families and Bright Horizons – make a number of recommendations which include strengthening the right to request flexible working by making it a duty for employers to consider whether a job can be done flexibly. It also recommends the introduction of up to 10 days paid carers’ leave per year.

Finally, it suggests that the government should consult as to whether employers should have to publish their parental leave and pay policies.

Jo Seery, of Thompsons Solicitors, commented: "This is yet another report revealing the inequity of flexible working practices in the workplace. Employers who refuse flexible working requests by working mothers, older workers and disabled workers may be at risk of a discrimination claim. 

"If the statutory right to flexible working is part of a strategy for creating a more balanced workplace it seriously needs amending by giving all workers a right to flexible working from day one and a corresponding mandatory obligation on employers to provide written reasons where flexible working is refused. The statutory review of the flexible working provisions in April is an ideal time to redress the balance."

To read the report in full, go to the Working Families website.