Mums who quit their chosen profession to have a baby face a pay cut of up to £20,000 a year when they return to work, research has revealed.
A detailed study of more than 2,000 women who have chosen or been forced by time or financial constraints to abandon their career after giving birth found six in ten earn less now than they did before baby arrived.
The report also revealed 70% are now in jobs they feel they are over-qualified for and would have been ‘below them’ before giving birth.
In fact, the average working mum was found to be earning £9,419 less each year.
The research, which was commissioned by AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians), found nearly a quarter of mums are forced by necessity to take any job in order to make ends meet.
AAT Chief Executive Jane Scott Paul said: “Motherhood is one of the biggest and best things a woman could wish to experience but there tends to be a perception that you can’t become a mum and maintain the career you’d like.
“Clearly there are big financial implications for women who are forced to leave their previous careers and instead take up jobs that allow greater flexibility but that aren’t challenging them professionally.
“Often this means a substantial decrease in the amount they are able to earn which is clearly having an impact both on their working happiness and the family finances.”
A third said the difference in salary has affected their life negatively and one in seven said it has repercussions on their marriage.
Four in ten working mums do their current job because it fits around family and helps bring in extra money, with just 16% claiming they are actually passionate about their profession.
- Six in ten mums now find themselves in a completely different role to the one they did before falling pregnant;
- Three quarters feel they have more potential than their current job allows;
- One in three mums even said the job they do now is a little menial and very different from the career they had before.
While working hours were obviously also reduced in order to balance parenting responsibilities, a fifth of mums said their current job was actually much less stressful than their previous positions.
The average respondent had their first child at the age of 25 and, at the time of falling pregnant, 38% thought the company they were with weren’t supportive enough throughout the pregnancy.
One in five even wished they could change the age at which they fell pregnant – the most common reason being because they weren’t high enough up the career ladder.
A third of mums actually feel they had to actively sacrifice their career in order to have children, while a fifth were convinced managing a family and pursuing a proper career simply wasn’t feasible.
Indeed, four in ten find combining being a mum and a professional as a huge challenge day to day.
Only a quarter aim to one day reach the level of income they were on before becoming a mum, with more than half admitting their priorities had changed.
Flexibility around school hours, job location and low stress levels were found to be the biggest priorities for working mums, with the salary being paid just fourth on the list.
Jane Scott Paul added: “The results show that the ambition from mums is still there but a shift in priorities means they need more flexible working roles in order to be able to manage a family while still developing their career.
“The good news is that many women take this as an opportunity to retrain and learn new skills – making them more employable across a range of sectors. Ideally, women want to be challenged and passionate about their job, while still earning a reasonable income and enjoying the everyday perks of being a mum.”