Flexible Work Hours Help Moms Close The Wage Gap, & Employers Should Take Note

That working moms don their hard hats or capes pretty much always is obvious. But new research has suggested that moms with flexible work arrangements can earn more money for their efforts. The study, which was recently published in the journal Work and Occupations, is the first of its kind to look at how flexible work hours could actually close the wage gap between mothers and childless women, according to Richmond News.

The researchers used 1999-2005 data from Statistics Canada’s Workplace and Employee survey, and the data looked at 20,879 women, 58 percent of whom were mothers, between the ages of 24 to 44. Ultimately, the researchers at the University of British Columbia said that, with increased flexibility, working mothers can earn more money for their efforts and close the motherhood wage gap — by 68 percent when women had flexible work hours and 58 percent when they were allowed to work from home, according to Science Daily.

"Flexibility might not be possible for all jobs, but it is appreciated by workers generally and make good business sense in terms of attracting and retaining highly qualified employees," study lead author and UBC sociology professor Sylvia Fuller reportedly said, according to Richmond News. She added that flexibility both makes it easier for mothers to do well in their jobs and alleviates concerns from the employer.

All working moms work... a lot. A recent Welch's study showed that, when you factor in family duties, working moms pretty much never stop working in some form, according to Working Mother. They work the equivalent of two full-time jobs, clocking in an average of 98 hours per week.

But flexible hours actually had the biggest impact on working mothers with postgraduate degrees, according to Science Daily. The researchers of the study also looked at the effect of education level, like whether the mothers had a high school diploma, non-university post-secondary education, a bachelor's degree, or a post-graduate degree. Without flexible hours, mothers with postgraduate degrees earned 7 percent less than childless women. And among those working flexible hours, mothers earned 12 percent more compared to childless women who also had flexible hours, Science Daily reported.

The results highlight a need for employers to evaluate their hiring practices, Fuller said, according to Richmond News. It's critical that they make sure they aren’t discriminating against mothers and are considering being more accommodating with regards to work-life balance.

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It's especially critical that employers make sure they aren't discriminating against working mothers, who are often subjected to penalties for having children. For example, Cornell researchers conducted a study in which they sent fake résumés to hundreds of employers, and they found that mothers were half as likely to be called back by prospective employers. Moreover, another recent study found that, while men’s salaries increased more than six percent when they had children, women’s decreased four percent for each child they had.

Many moms are forging their own career paths so they can be in more control of their finances and futures, according to even more research. A recent Vistaprint study of 500 American moms who run their own businesses reported that 62 percent of moms said flexible working hours was one of the top reasons for starting their own business. This was followed by being in charge of their own destiny (51 percent) and financial independence (44 percent).

And it's not just working mothers who yearn for flexibility and the financial wellness that can come of it. Even once dads start working flexible hours, their wives’ hourly wages increase significantly, too, by 14.2 percent after four years, according to a study published in the journal Work, Employment and Society.

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In fact, flexible hours are a perk for everyone. A report on telecommuting in the United States from FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce, found that 3.9 million U.S. employees who make up 2.9 percent of the total U.S. workforce actually work from home at least half of the time. There’s been a 115 percent percent increase in telecommuting between 2005 to 2015 (up from 1.8 million in 2005), and the average annual income of telecommuters is $4,000 per year higher than those who work on-site, according to the report.

Companies are catching on to the benefits that come with attracting and retaining well-balanced workers, too. Forty percent more U.S. employers offered flexible workplace options in 2017 than in 2010, according to the report. One of the major benefits is that those who work from home have reported being more productive without wasted time commuting or workplace distractions.

So it's no wonder why so many workers, and particularly working mothers, are pushing for flexibility and to work from home at least part of the time. In short: Flexible hours are the way of the feminist future.