While remembering that it is important that young mothers do not feel forced to return to work earlier than they would wish, it is equally important that those who wish to return to careers can do so.
There has been a 5% increase, to 70%, over the last six years, of mothers of 5-year-olds in work. 53% of mothers, at all child age points, born in 2010/2011 are in work compared to 48% of those born in 2004/5.
The Minister for Employability and Training said:
‘Clearly there is still more that we can do to ensure no-one is forced to choose between their career or 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.’
Flexibility remains the main barrier to mothers returning to work. The Scottish government has called on employers to offer more flexible working opportunities as this has been shown to boost productivity and is good for workers. Hopefully, the new increases in free early learning and childcare will make this more feasible for both workers and employers.