Working mothers denied right to flexible hours

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The Independent Online

More women than men are being denied the chance to work from home because of sexist bosses.

Figures published this weekend reveal that more than two-thirds of working mothers - 10 per cent more than men - complain that employers will not let them work flexibly.

Almost half of women also report a culture of rigid attitudes towards working hours.

Campaigners are warning that the findings, based on a survey by YouGov, show a huge gender gap in the workplace which penalises women who want children and a career.

Working Families, the charity which campaigns for a better work/life balance for parents, blames employers for failing in their legal responsibilities to working parents.

"Women who opt for a flexible plan are seen as less committed'," said Jonathan Swan, head of policy and research.

"Likewise, men are expected to be hands-on fathers and fit in to a 'long hours' culture."

Under EU laws, parents can ask to work flexible hours. But the research, commissioned by technology firm WebEx and based on a survey of more than 1,500 adults across the UK, found that nearly two-thirds of parents were ignorant of their rights.

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) is also calling on ministers to widen access to parental leave for low-income fathers. Research published by the EOC reveals that men on lower wages still face barriers in taking time off around the birth of their child.