Have you ever Googled the key words: “mothers and work”? The top results will include several articles of this kind: “Mothers and work: in Italy, why do you have to choose between career and family?”; “Children, home and work: being a mother is an obstacle course”; “Can a mother really work full-time?”, and so on.
When you click on the most recent results, many links lead to data from the latest survey taken by the National Labour Inspectorate in Italy, which highlights how increasingly difficult it is to return to work after having a baby:
– since 2014, the employment rate among women aged 25 to 49 (the average age of mothers with minor children) has not increased for women with a child, and has even decreased by 2.2% for those who have a single child aged 0 to 6.
– 24,618 women have resigned from their jobs because they were unable to reconcile work and family after having a baby. 1,243 of these mothers live in the Emilia-Romagna region.
What are the reasons behind this? The high cost of day care, low wages, and grandparents who cannot take care of their grandchildren.
So, what can we do to prevent maternity from being “penalised” in the workplace? Actually, just a few social welfare measures would suffice -–measures which we at STUDIOTRE have always applied and have made an integral part of our corporate culture, over and above what is required by law.
Most important is a flexible work schedule. Mothers often have to juggle their personal schedule and the school schedule that, as the years go by, becomes shorter and does not cover enough of the day. A work schedule that is flexible (in both starting and ending times) can be a valid aid, especially when there’s no family network to provide support.
In addition to a flexible work schedule, smart working is another measure of fundamental importance, as it allows you to work from a remote location if you are unable to leave the house. It helps mothers manage their professional and personal duties, while increasing productivity and reducing absenteeism at the same time.
Implementing labour policies that improve the well-being of working mothers is therefore possible, even by starting with just these small, yet important organisational strategies.
According to ISTAT (Italian statistics bureau), 37% of Italian companies have already adopted the flexible work schedule. It is our wish that mothers see this percentage grow every year, so we can live in a society in which motherhood is no longer viewed as an obstacle.