Charity calls on employers to allow more flexible working in a bid to help single parents juggle work and family life

A charity has urged employers to introduce more flexible working for single parents to help them balance work and family life.

Gingerbread said many single parents are highly motivated to work - not only because they are the sole breadwinner in their family, but also because they want to be a role model for their children.

However, its report found that issues such as a lack of childcare or flexible hours can make it difficult for many single mothers and fathers to find or hold down jobs.

Most of the respondents said practicalities such as having a job close to their children's school and being able to work part-time or flexible hours were far more important than salary or how their job fits in with their career so far.

Two thirds of those polled said that ideally, they would like to work part-time or flexible hours to enable them to take care of their children, while around two in five (38%) said they would like to be able to have emergency time off.

The report also found that nearly six in ten (59%) of all single parents already have a job and three-quarters (75%) of those who are currently out of work plan to find a job in the next three years.

Most of the remaining respondents were either long-term disabled or caring for a disabled child.

Gingerbread chief executive Fiona Weir said: "The real picture of single parents today is a million miles away from the 'scrounging' stereotype.

"Single parents want to work, provide for their family and be a role model to their children, but they are being held back by a system that isn't fit for purpose.

"Affordable, modern childcare options and more flexible jobs could transform the lives of millions of working families across the UK, not just single parents, and offer real benefits for employers and our economy.

"Even small changes can make a big difference, so that single parents can pursue the jobs that would make the most of their skills and provide a better life for their families."

The Gingerbread report also found that a growing number of single parents are 'bumping down', which means they are willing to give up responsibility and higher pay for more flexible working arrangements.

Copyright Press Association 2012