Inflexible Employers Are Forcing Mothers Out of the Workforce

Many parents struggle to hold down jobs while also caring for children and maintaining home life responsibilities. But a new FlexJobs survey reveals a disturbing statistic: In an age where workplace flexibility is supposedly becoming more commonplace, 31% of women were forced to take a career break after having kids because their jobs were too inflexible. Not only that, but 56% of mothers tried to negotiate flexible work arrangements with their employers, yet only 32% were successful.

Equally problematic is the fact that 42% of mothers said it was either difficult or extremely difficult to reenter the workforce after taking a career break. If you're a parent who needs flexibility to stay in the workforce, here are some tips to sway your employer to grant you that leeway.

Woman sitting on floor in a kitchen, hugging young child while holding flowers.


1. Talk up your proven track record

Many employers are hesitant to grant workers flexibility for fear that it'll hurt their output. But if you're a strong performer with a solid history of exceeding expectations, it helps to remind your company of that fact. To this end, highlight the times you've completed big projects or hit key milestones without much supervision. That might convince your employer that if you're given the flexibility to work from home, your productivity won't take a hit. At the same time, rehashing your stellar track record could reinforce the message that your employer can't afford to lose you, which might lead to more flexibility on its part.

2. Change the scope of your role

Maybe your current job requires you to be at the office during specific hours, such as to work with or supervise others. If that's the case, try suggesting adjustments that make flexible hours or telecommuting more viable for you. For example, if you oversee a team, you might consider instead taking an individual contributor role that allows you to be less visible. And if your work is highly collaborative, you might suggest moving over to a quality-control role that lends to more independence.

3. Be willing to take a pay cut

In an ideal world, you wouldn't need to compromise your earnings for a little flexibility. But if your employer doesn't seem all that willing to cut you some slack, you might offer to accept a reduction in pay if that's what it takes to retain your job. In fact, in the aforementioned survey, 31% of mothers said they'd consider taking a pay cut if doing so allowed them to work remotely as much as they wanted. And while that might hurt your finances to some extent, a pay cut is clearly better than having no salary at all.

Flexibility on the job is critical to parents in particular. If your current employer really refuses to budge in that area, consider dusting off your resume and looking for a job elsewhere before resigning yourself to a career break. Once you completely leave the workforce, it can be difficult to break back in, so it pays to make an effort to find an employer that's willing to bend.

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