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Flexible hours as mothers re-enter workforce could ease wage gap: UBC study

Research says choosing their own hours, working from home could help reduce ‘motherhood pay gap’

Flexible work arrangements – such as being able to work from home and choose your work hours – helps mothers close the wage gap between themselves and women who don’t have children.

That’s according to a new study by UBC sociology professor Sylvia Fuller that contains some of the first findings on how the use of flexible work hours can alter the wage gap between mothers and childless women, depending on their education.

“When companies allow work to be organized in a flexible way, they’re less worried about hiring mothers,” Fuller said Thursday in a news release.

“Not only does flexibility make it easier for mothers to do well in their jobs, but it also alleviates concern from the employer that they’ll be able to.”

The study suggests mothers overall tend to earn less than childless women because they’re not being hired by the highest paying firms.

Fuller’s team used Statistics Canada data from nearly 21,000 women, of which 58 per cent were mothers, between the ages of 24 and 44.

Flexible work hours reduced the “motherhood wage gap” by 68 per cent, while the ability to work from home reduced the wage gap by 58 per cent.

Flexible hours made the biggest difference for women with postgraduate degrees.

Without being able to work one their own schedule, mothers earned seven per cent less than childless women. That’s compared to those who did work flexible hours and earned 12 per cent more than childless women.

Fuller said the findings highlight a need for employers to look at their hiring practices and ensure they are not discriminating against mothers, as well as to consider allowing flexible work arrangements.

“Flexibility might not be possible for all jobs,” she said, “but it is appreciated by workers generally and make good business sense in terms of attracting and retaining highly qualified employees.”


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