Advanced search

MNHQ here: do well paid people get offered more family friendly working conditions than low paid people?

(89 Posts)
RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 03-Oct-17 11:40:32 those in senior roles get offered more flexibility than those in more junior jobs?

Do people working in the public sector get a better or worse family-friendly deal than people working in law and professional services?

'Why are you asking us, Rowan' I hear you cry

Well we DID ask you and today we're announcing the results.

We found that junior staff and those on low wages are offered less flexibility and fewer family-friendly benefits than well-paid staff in senior positions. However, in a surprising twist, CEOs, MDs, founders and other senior leaders fare worst of all when it comes to family-friendly working.

Here are some of the top lines...

CEOs, founders, MDs, chairpeople and senior leaders have the least family-friendly working conditions of all the job roles studied. (However, it's important to bear in mind that this category will include people running very tiny start-ups, as well as people running huge organisations.)

There’s a huge gulf between the quality of family-friendly conditions available to staff paid more than £25,000pa full-time equivalent (who tend do much better than average) and those available for staff paid less than £25,000pa FTE (who tend to do much worse than average).

The public sector offers the best overall family-friendly package to its staff – but employees in this sector are the most likely to report experiencing negative attitudes from colleagues over different working practices.

The ‘law and professional services’ category offers a package that’s considerably less family-friendly than the average.

Large companies and large corporations tend to offer the best family-friendly conditions, but small-to-medium sized enterprises (50-250 employees) offer a worse overall package than smaller companies (10-50 staff).

Staff working in customer-facing roles (retail, catering etc) tend to have the worst family-friendly offers of any job role aside from CEOs, founders and senior leaders - but junior and clerical workers also do quite badly compared with the average.

73% of respondents (of whom 99% are women) say having children has made it harder to progress in their career, and 64% say they feel less employable since having children.

You can read more about it (and also download a copy of the full report) here.

What do you think? Do the results accord with your experience?


tectonicplates Tue 03-Oct-17 12:23:34

Not a huge surprise. Staff in lower-paid jobs tend to get treated worse for many reasons, not just family-friendly issues. I thought that was fairly obvious, really - surprised the question even needed asking.

WheresMyTaco Tue 03-Oct-17 12:32:45

Working for free over night for example?

mamamac101 Tue 03-Oct-17 12:40:20

As a female engineer, this comes as no surprise

araiwa Tue 03-Oct-17 12:42:37

Higher salaries usually equals more benefits too- your findings are exactly as expected

LastNightMyWifeHooveredMyHead Tue 03-Oct-17 13:03:10

Nothing at all surprising about these results confused

NeedMoreSleepOrSugar Tue 03-Oct-17 13:14:42

Haven't read the report yet (I will tonight) but it would be very interesting to see the grids set against pay - the public sector and healthcare for example are often underpaid roles, but often with good formal offerings in terms of flexibility/ family friendly working. Law for example is often more highly paid, but with much less flexibility. I know certainly dh and I, as well as many friends, have made choices on which sectors to work in based on balancing the two - ie sacrificing a little of one (in our case pay) to improve the other (flexibility)

sharksDen Tue 03-Oct-17 13:58:47

People in lower paid jobs are less likely to have proven themselves independent, self-managing, responsible individuals.

For example, there are likely to be rules whereby people working in shops can't have phones on them during a shift or need to not have money on them while handling cash to avoid any 'stealing' issues. They may need to sign a time sheet or use fingerprints to sign in and out. The lower down the pay scale you are, the less autonomy you have. At the top of your game, you have absolute autonomy.

Those in higher paid jobs are likely able to work flexi-time (to some extent), have unmonitored internet access, not have their hours checked as long as they're proving themselves with other metrics etc.

DeadGood Tue 03-Oct-17 14:10:17

" I thought that was fairly obvious, really - surprised the question even needed asking."

Sometimes it's useful to be able to have actual data to point to, rather than just a vague "it's common knowledge" argument.

It also clarifies things a bit and really shows up the injustice of things - lower paid people should be compensated in other ways (such as family friendly policies) - this doesn't affect their wages but allowing flexibility is fairly easy for businesses to allow.

BananaShit Tue 03-Oct-17 14:28:53

Neither the general thrust nor the CEO stuff surprises me.

I think it's also worth pointing out, and this research possibly doesn't quite tease out, that --mothers- parents often effectively purchase flexibility via a lower salary. Both in respect of not going for promotions when part time, and in asking for a less competitive salary when applying for new jobs if you know you're also going to need flexibility. So some of the people who do report flexibility would also be earning more if they didn't have it.

5rivers7hills Tue 03-Oct-17 14:38:38

It's also better to be the client not the service provider if you want flexibility - that's why law and professional services are so bad. Always got to get what the client wants. And why buy side equity is more attractive than sell side.

RobotGoat Tue 03-Oct-17 15:41:28

5rivers That's not the case for me at all. I work for a professional services firm and the flexibility is much greater than I'd get working in industry doing a similar job. Multiple clients/teams/employees means that portfolios can be juggled where necessary to give more flexibility. In industry (doing my job) you'd probably be one of only a few people that could do the work, so if you aren't there to meet the deadlines then it doesn't get done. Then again, maybe I just got lucky with my place of work smile

Redredredrose Tue 03-Oct-17 15:45:01

I work in a very family-friendly industry. It's female dominated, which could be one reason. Although maternity pay isn't very good in my particular firm, you get a very generous salary bump when you return, and it's really easy to get flexible working, e.g. part-time hours; four days spread over five; five days condensed into four; working from home etc. Junior people are treated as well as more senior employees. Also, depending on your manager, it's reasonably easy to leave early one day for a medical appointment for your child, or get to work late occasionally because you've had to do a drop-off that your partner usually handles.

I don't know how it will affect my promotion possibilities. My son has had a lot of health issues since he was born, and so I haven't focused as much on my work as I should have done. Friends who have "leaned in" more have climbed the ladder faster - but not at the expense of their children, that I can tell (ie still working from home, still working part-time etc). On the other hand, I know very very few fathers, either in my industry or partners of my female colleagues, who work part-time. It's almost always left to the woman to do that, im my experience.

HelenaDove Tue 03-Oct-17 15:49:17

sharksDen Tue 03-Oct-17 13:58:47
"People in lower paid jobs are less likely to have proven themselves independent, self-managing, responsible individuals"

What a classist snobby attitude. I think the retail workers who find a way to get into work on Boxing Day despite not having a car or being able to drive and there being no public transport are pretty good at self managing actually,

As a childfree by choice woman who used to work in retail i always tried to book any medical appointments for my day off But this is impossible to do when management decide to change your day off with just a few hours notice and then expect you to cancel pre booked appointments.

One of these was my Depo Provera contraceptive injection which HAD to be done on time but i had already been flexible about it by booking it on my day off even though it was due a couple days before. THEN they wanted me to cancel this appointment as they needed all hands on deck on my day off and wanted me to come in with a few hours notice as they were short staffed. The reason they were short staffed? Because two other staff were off on maternity leave.

Maybe they were aiming to complete a hat trick!!!

My self management on this issue was evident in me booking it on my day off.

Theirs left a lot to be desired.

Redredredrose Tue 03-Oct-17 15:49:50

And up to recently, I was definitely purchasing flexibility with a lower salary. My company has historically paid less than other companies in the same industry, but I never considered jumping ship because I've got such good flexible working conditions, including working from home for half the week, and a manager who doesn't mind if you swap your WFH days about. I might have earned more in another companhy but I'd have to have been there for a while before I was trusted to organise my own work with the same flexibility.

HelenaDove Tue 03-Oct-17 16:15:38


I worked in a v. famous electrical retailer beginning with C as a Christmas temp years ago.

They used to search us on the way out at the end of every shift.

Fair enough..............................but they did not provide lockers apart from wooden ones that didnt lock. A couple of days before Christmas i went in the back to retrieve my coat and bag I found my bag and some of its contents strewn all over the staff room floor . The zip compartment inside the bag where i kept my flat keys was open but luckily keys were still there. I scooped up my stuff and went and found a manager who asked me if anything had been taken. i said it didnt look like it.

Its still not very bloody nice to know someone has been through your stuff.
At home later i rang my bank because the bank card in my purse also looked like it had been moved. The bank advised me to cancel my card so thats what i did........on 23rd December two days before Christmas .angry I was fucking livid. Even more so when the hypocrisy of it all occured to me.

They searched staff upon leaving every day but couldnt give a toss about keeping staff property safe while they worked .

Next shift i started carrying my bag about with me the whole time . They said it wasnt practical and suggested i stored it in the cash office which i did for the rest of the time i worked there.

There was also the issue of them sticking me on a till that did cards only, as on one shift my till was down After about 3 days of this i was moved back to a till that did cash as well. A supervisor then told me she had made the mistake and counted up wrong. No apology though.

The sheer hypocrisy was absolutely gob smacking. Basically "our property matters but yours doesnt"

sharksDen Tue 03-Oct-17 16:33:06


You keep using those words. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I didn't mention class. The key verb was 'proven'. Unless a manag*er*. it's hard to show you can manag*e*.

By definition, those lower down the rungs of the promotion ladder are unlikely to have shown that they are independent. By their very nature, they are dependent on seniors.

A basic example of the differences throughout an organisation is a uniform at the bottom, guidelines in the middle and a belief that those at the top know how to dress themselves in accordance with expectations.

"They searched staff upon leaving every day but couldnt give a toss about keeping staff property safe while they worked ."

I'm not sure what you expect to be different? Surveilled lockers with 3" steel doors and inaccessible hinges?

Theft at work is a police matter. Theft from work is also a police matter but the managers of Comet / Currys have a duty and professional obligation (financial incentive) to minimise it.

Are you saying that those who are lower in an organisation are less trustworthy?

herewecomeawassailing Tue 03-Oct-17 16:46:25

Working for free over night for example?


Takes "purchasing flexibility with a lower salary" to the extreme!

HelenaDove Tue 03-Oct-17 16:48:35

Of course not. The lockers didnt lock AT ALL. There were no keys to lock them with. I didnt want steel doors I just wanted a locker that did what it says in the description........locked.

You are deliberately trying to twist things.

Ok hers why your attempt to twist things doesnt fly.

Say you went to a swimming pool for a swim and their lockers didnt lock Would you be ok with that. Or would you complain.

And would you be happy if when you complained the person behind the desk said... "Are you saying that our other customers and staff are less trustworthy"? !!!

It wasnt only the shop staff who had access to that locker room So did everyone from area managers down to cleaners.

milliemolliemou Tue 03-Oct-17 16:53:13

Possibly a different set of questions would provide different results? This survey seems to have been impossibly broad.

* Yes CEOs etc tend to have less flexibility, be on call all the time
* High earning people in the law, journalism, medicine etc often have working hours that would make many others gulp - weekends, shifts, cancelled holidays, weekends, 24 hour accessibility. Some can work from home if they're lucky or negotiate a 4 day week etc, but on the expectation it can be broken into.
* Face to face people or those who need to be there - medics, teachers, journalists, firefighters, police, telephone operators, engineers, fishermen, butchers, retail staff etc - won't have as much freedom. Some will have protected TOIL if they're public servants and decent compensation. Some might even have decent pensions.

73 per cent of respondents of whom 99 per cent were women ... hmm. Could this be because it was a Mumsnet survey?

Oldie2017 Tue 03-Oct-17 17:02:25

The moral as ever is do as well as you can at school and encouraeg teenage girls into high paid work.

Also don't assume people with families want to spend loads of time with them of course. Divorce lawyers have a field day after Christmas and summer holidays. More time with the children and spouse is not everyone's idea of an ideal life by any means!

itsmetree Tue 03-Oct-17 17:10:55

I am a high earner and I have significant flexibility on a day to day basis, however I also have to work away often for free, be available in case of emergencies (sometimes late at night). I think it’s swings and roundabouts.

In my organisation a lot of lower earners are in jobs where they have to be in the office such as receptionist or administrators, which by their very nature are not able to be worked from home.

sharksDen Tue 03-Oct-17 17:14:02


Haha - love it!


Ok. "Hers" why your reply doesn't fly. It has nothing whatsoever to do with propositions put forwards in the original post. You might as well be arguing about apples being predominantly green this year.

The fact remains that those in the lower tiers of employment (and this is about promotion, not human-worth) have less autonomy and it's this autonomy which leads to family-friendly working conditions.

BananaShit Tue 03-Oct-17 17:17:27

Does indeed herewecomes! Fortunately I do a bit better than that.

Paradoxically, I think non public sector can be better in this way because you can have a bit more bargaining freedom. If I were eg a teacher or nurse I couldn't say well pay me 4k under the going rate and I'll do 4k less work. But there are roles in the private sector where that's a possibility, especially when you're paid based on targets that are salary multiples.

LBOCS2 Tue 03-Oct-17 17:29:40

I think a lot of this is to do with the roles involved as well - whether it's a more senior (strategic) role or a processing one. Processing roles by and large require staff presence to carry out the job - you can't file, or data input, or serve customers, or greet visitors to a company if you're not there.

However you can make strategic decisions, manage (some) HR issues, sign off on reports/information, etc remotely. The ability to work remotely provides a level of flexibility.

Also - I worked from home for a while, in my last role (I'm a SAHP now). I was only able to do that because of the level of seniority I had got to within my industry. I didn't need guidance or someone keeping an eye on me because of the amount of experience I'd accumulated in more junior roles.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: