Returning to work after maternity leave or an extended career break can be a difficult time for both a mother and a child so Parental Choice spoke to Suzannah Butcher, Directory and Founder, Work For Mums, for tips on flexible job options for mums returning to work.
For women returners, this can be a time of doubt and worry, but with the right support and advice you can make the right decision for you and your family, meaning a smoother transition back into the working world. It’s a good idea to get some careers advice if you aren’t sure which direction you want to take. At the very least you need to make some plans about what sort of work you would like to do and whether there might be any help with childcare costs should you need to employ a nanny or use the services of a nursery.
What is Flexible Working?
Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs such as being able to work certain hours or work from home. Anyone can ask their employer to work flexibly. If you are an employee who cares for someone (this can be your children or another adult) then you have the legal right to request flexible working. Many employers offer flexi-time whereby you can arrive at work between a certain time period, say between 7.30am and 9.00am and then leaving between 4.30pm and 6.00pm. Weekly contracted hours still have to be met and are usually recorded on an electronic time sheet or similar. There may also be work from home options available.
If you are already employed, you should consider asking your current employer about flexible working or reducing your hours to part-time. You are legally entitled to make a statutory application for flexible working if you have worked continuously for the same employers for the last 26 weeks.
The basic steps for making an application are:
- The employee writes to the employer.
- The employer should request a meeting within 28 days to discuss the application.
- The employer must make a decision within 14 days of the meeting and tell the employee about it.
- If the employer agrees to flexible working they must give the employee a new contract. If they don’t agree the employee can appeal.
Flexible Job Types For Mums
There are some career and job choices which are particularly suited to mums, such as term time only jobs or shifts which are deemed ‘family friendly’. Here are some occupations which you could consider as a working mum:
Teaching Assistant (TA) roles are usually very flexible and often perfectly suited to mums as they are term time only. Usually there are no specific qualifications required. Being a TA can lead onto a career in teaching, allowing you to study within the workplace and maybe eventually completing a PGCE Open University course.
Find out more on TES Connect Website: tes.co.uk/article
Health Care Assistant
As a Health Care Assistant part-time and flexible working options are usually available, although you must be prepared to work shifts in the evening and at weekends. There are opportunities for progression through training and there are many occupational areas which you can explore within the nursing field.
Find out more on the NHS website: nhscareers.nhs.uk/healthcare-assistant
Direct selling is where you buy a product or service from an individual either at your own home (or someone else’s), from a brochure or via the Internet. Sellers are not employed by the company whose products they have chosen to sell so you do need to register as self employed. Hours are completely flexible, although you will need to be very motivated and dedicated to make a direct selling business successful.
Find out more on the Direct Selling Association website: dsa.org.uk/earning_money/start_your_own_business
As a child-minder you can specify the hours you want to work although you would need to take into account the needs of parents whom will be using your services. You do not need any qualifications although you do need to be registered with Ofsted.
Find out more on the National Careers Service Website: nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/Childminder
Starting your own business
There are many ideas for starting your own work from home business but it’s important that you research thoroughly before you make any decisions.
Find out more on the Gov UK website: gov.uk/business/setting-up
Returning to work can be stressful, especially if your confidence has taken a knock since having your child, but by finding part-time or flexible work to suit you and your family, you can build your self-confidence and start to feel like ‘you’ again. It is possible to enjoy your working life and raise a family, achieving the perfect work/life balance.
For flexible jobs for mums, tips and advice, visit www.workformums.co.uk. You can browse through hundreds of jobs and business opportunities, upload your CV and set up job alerts so you are notified via email of any new jobs according to your specified preferences.
Suzannah Butcher, founder of Work For Mums – jobs and opportunities for mums and dads looking for flexible employment or start their own business