Mothers take pay cut of £11,000 per year to work around their children

Just two fifths of British mothers return to their career following having children, with the rest either switching jobs for one that suits their new lifestyle.

A new survey by a money-saving website in the UK reveals that 59 per cent of British women don’t return to their previous career once they’ve had children, choosing to either switch jobs to one with hours that will work around their children or stay at home and be with their kids. According to the poll, the average British mother who will leave her career for a more flexible job will take a pay cut of £11,000 a year to do so.

Whether it’s because childcare costs are too expensive or their previously chosen careers aren’t flexible for working mums, almost three fifths of British mothers won’t return to their careers after having children, choosing instead to work in supermarkets, administration jobs or schools for the flexibility. This move will see them lose, on average, £11,000 in earnings per year.

The team at undertook the study as part of ongoing research into how British women’s lives change once they have children. 2,418 British women, all of whom stated that they had at least one child under the age of five years old, were quizzed about their lives pre-and post-parenthood.

Initially, all respondents were asked ‘Did you return to your previous career after having children?’ to which just two fifths of respondents, 41 per cent, said ‘yes’. A tenth (10 per cent) say that they didn’t work before having children. Of the 49 per cent who said that they didn’t return to their career after having children, 64 per cent ‘switched jobs for one with more flexible hours’ to work around their children and 25 per cent ‘became a stay-at-home parent’.

All respondents who didn’t return to their career were asked why, with the top reasons cited being ‘the cost of childcare was too expensive’ (45 per cent) and ‘my career didn’t have the flexibility I needed’ (39 per cent).

Respondents who had switched jobs when returning to work were asked what type of job they had gone into that better suited their new lifestyle and family. When provided with a list of possible responses and told that they could also specify their own, the top five jobs were revealed as:

1. Supermarket role – 18 per cent
2. Administration – 17 per cent
3. School (e.g. teaching assistant, dinner lady etc.) – 15 per cent
4. High street retail – 9 per cent
5. Cleaning – 7 per cent

Those who stated that they got a job in a school were asked if it was the same school their children went to, to which 64 per cent say that it was.

Furthermore, when asked what their salary had been prior to having children (if they were employed then), the average was revealed as £32,500. When relevant respondents were asked what their salary was after leaving their career and getting a job that better suited their family lifestyle, the average was revealed as £21,500 – a difference of £11,000 per year.

George Charles, spokesperson for, comments, ‘Unfortunately, mothers have it a lot harder than fathers when it comes to managing a career and raising children; and many feel that the best thing for their family is to leave their career and find something more suited to their families. This is the case for many families up and down the country and unless businesses are more accommodating then it’s going to continue to be the norm.’

Further reading on working mothers

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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