Number of working mums up 1.2 million since 1996

There are 1.2 million more working mums than 20 years ago, as firms shift to more flexible working policies, new figures show.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics, there are 4.9 million employed mothers with dependent children, compared with 3.7 million in 1996.

The figure equates to 73.7% of mums being in employment, indicating that laws around flexible working are taking effect.

ONS statistician Emily Glastonbury said: “The continuing rise in the number of working mothers has been a major feature of the labour market in England in the last two decades.

“Reasons for this might include more flexible working practices, shared parental leave and changes to government policy on the availability of childcare.”

Mothers with children aged over 11-years-old are most likely to be in full-time work, compared with mums of three- and four-year-olds who are the least likely to be in employment.

However, the number of employed women with a youngest child aged three or four has seen a sharp rise over two decades, with 65.1% in employment today, compared with 55.8% in 1997.

Since 2009, parents with children under the age of 16 have the right to request working arrangement that give some degree of flexibility to account for family life.

This can include a change to working hours, amending the hours they work or being able to work from home. A parent must make a valid business case and an employer should provide a response in writing.

Since the changes in the law, more firms are implementing flexible working policies to improve work-life balance among employees.

According to employment body Acas: “A poor balance between an employee’s work commitments and their other responsibilities can lead to stress, high absence and low productivity.”