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New report sheds light on the working lives of single parents

Many single parents are being forced to take on junior jobs that offer more flexible hours and proximity to home, a new report from single parent charity Gingerbread has found. Lack of flexible jobs, and unaffordable and unavailable childcare, are still proving to be the biggest barriers to single parents seeking work that matches their skills.

Single parents taking part in the research into work aspirations put practicalities such as having a job close to their child’s school, with part-time or flexible hours and an understanding line-manager, far above considerations of the role, salary or how the job suits their skills or experience when job-hunting. Two thirds of single parents said their ideal job would offer them part-time or flexible hours to fit with their caring responsibilities and two fifths (38%) would ideally have a job that allowed for emergency time off.

The career trend of ‘bumping down’, where parents trade responsibility and higher pay for more flexible working arrangements, also emerged from Gingerbread’s single parent focus groups. Some single parents are actively choosing to have less responsibility at work because they felt this would give them greater job flexibility and offer them more time with their families, while others feel strongly that they shouldn’t have to ‘dumb down’ their careers simply because they need different working hours.

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