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London - Working women who don’t have children are increasingly resentful of the “flexibility” granted to colleagues who are parents, a study has found.

Two thirds claim they are expected to work longer hours than mothers.

Around half of women surveyed said those who worked flexible hours were resented and viewed as “less committed” by colleagues at their organisation.

The issue is particularly pronounced in the private sector, where there is growing tension between parents and non-parents in the workplace, the survey of 25 000 working women aged 28 to 40 found.

Childless workers often resent their colleagues leaving early or arriving late to accommodate the school run. Other flashpoints include time off when children are unwell and mothers who work from home to fit around childcare needs.

The study, by gender equality campaigners Opportunity Now, also found the majority of women are worried that having children will have a negative effect on their careers.

Two thirds said they felt that flexible working was a barrier to progression, while more than three quarters said they were nervous about how children might affect their job.

Helena Morrissey, chairman of Opportunity Now and chief executive of Newton Investment Managers, said: “The survey responses show an uneasy tension between women who don’t have children and those who do.

“These findings suggest that flexible working isn’t working. One group feels resentment, the other feels less valued.

“Overcoming this tension is entirely possible – but companies need to measure output, not hours worked, and radically reassess working practices.”

Lynne Franks, founder of women’s networking space B.Hive, said mothers who worked flexible hours could achieve the same results as childless working women but were still viewed as contributing less. - Daily Mail