The number of mothers turning to freelance work and becoming self-employed is on the rise, despite the unique challenges this presents.

A survey carried out by think-tank Demos shows that there has been a 24% increase in the number of mothers who have become freelancers over the past two years. The main reason given by the respondents for turning their back on traditional employment is the flexibility that freelancing brings.

Demos believes that its findings should make the country’s big employers wake up and take note of this trend, as more parents will decide to set up a business for themselves rather than having to work around rigid employer-imposed timetables. Of those surveyed, 69% of the female respondents named the need to achieve a flexible work-life balance as their chief motivating factor in going self-employed, compared to 55% of the male respondents. Men were more likely to have financial motivations for going freelance, while women appreciate the greater control over working hours that freelancing offers.

Demos research director Duncan O’Leary said: “For parents who want to spend time with their children, self-employment can provide the flexibility to ease back into work in a way that many workplaces do not offer. There is a challenge here for big employers too. Parents want flexibility and it seems a growing number are willing to work for themselves if they can’t get it at the companies they work for.”

These results from Demos form part of a larger project examining the ways in which business and government can react to the growth in self-employment that the UK is currently experiencing.

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