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More mothers of young children are now working full-time

Record numbers of mothers of young children are now working full-time - 2.25 million women with children under 4, against just 1.9 million in 2003, according to the Office of National Statistics.

The economic downturn has seen many mothers of young children return to work earlier than they had planned to help make ends meet at home. Working mothers have typically been regarded by employers as a particularly productive sector of the workforce, and often just a small amount of flexibility over hours or conditions is all it takes to enable mothers of young children to return to work.

Flexible working practices such as flexi-time, part-time work, compressed hours or home working can provide a lifeline for working mothers and enable them to balance their family responsibilities with their workloads more easily. Parents of children up to the age of 16 are already entitled by law to request flexible working, and more support for working parents is on the cards. Alongside the Government's Modern Workplaces consultation, which is set to review family-friendly working practices and parental leave in 2012, the establishment in November 2011 of the 'Anywhere Working' consortium aims to help UK employers better understand the benefits of a flexible working environment and how to manage it.

There's growing evidence, too, that family-friendly policies are working in employers' favour when it comes to recruitment, with the availability of flexible working increasingly influencing women's decisions about who they want to work for.

Acas provides support for employers through training in the implementation of family-friendly work practices and the The right to request flexible working.

Visit the Acas training and business solutions area for more information.

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