This week’s Flexi Mama is Fran, who has two children who are two and almost four. Before having children, she worked as a local government service manager in community safety.
“After my first I returned four months pregnant, because they’d made my boss redundant and wouldn’t let me go part time,” says Fran. “I was there around five months, maybe not even that actually! After my second I returned for two weeks, because I had to see out my notice.”
High childcare costs played a big role in Fran’s decision not to return to her local government job.
“Ultimately we just couldn’t afford two in childcare. By the time my second was a year and I was due back, my blog was doing OK and I’d discovered (just) the world of freelancing and so I wasn’t as upset and desperate as I was the first time round, when I thought I had no choice but to return under their terms.
“With two at full-time nursery it would have been about £2400 per month before the 15 hours kicked in. I don’t think that’s reasonable, at all.”
She applied for flexible working through official channels twice.
“Both times it was accepted in principle; the first time they replaced my boss (with, ironically a part-time woman who had no clue what was going on and left before I even got back) who decided it couldn’t be part time. The second time around it was all agreed that I’d do a jobshare and then my partner pulled out.”
She hasn’t tried to find another part-time job, but she’s continuing to get freelance work.
“I hope that I can keep freelancing ad-hoc and maybe take it up more regularly when my children are at school. I haven’t turned the job alerts off though; I get notified of part-time jobs in my area which pay up to £5k less per annum than I was on. I’ve had one alert in the past six months and it was entirely irrelevant.
“I never want to go back to work in local government. The people who work there have largely never worked in the private sector and wouldn’t last five minutes. It’s unhappy. I would ultimately like to become a regular freelancer. I enjoy blogging and I’ve started to make enough money from my blog and related work to mean I’m better off than I would have been returning to work on part-time hours, and I don’t have to pay for childcare. It’s hard work but I love it and I’ve a group of girls that are like my colleagues, so I feel like part of a workforce!”
So – what’s the single biggest thing that could help mothers who want to work?
“Flexible working for sure; you’d think a council would be flexible but they are just SO old fashioned and backwards, and help with childcare costs.”