The number of mothers working full-time has increased from less than a quarter to almost a third over the past 15 years, new figures show.
The Office for National Statistics said 29% of mothers worked full-time at the end of last year, up from 23% in 1996, driven by a growth in full-time working generally.
A higher proportion of mothers worked part-time rather than full-time, while there was also a narrowing of the gap between employment rates for mothers and for women with no dependent children.
In 1996 the employment rate for mothers was 61%, while for women without children it was 67%. By the end of last year the gap had almost gone, with 66% of mothers and 67% of women without children in employment, the figures showed.
Since the onset of the recession, the employment rate for women without children has fallen back from its peak of 70% in 2006, driven mainly by a fall in employment for those aged 16 to 24.
ONS statistician Jamie Jenkins said: “Over 15 years the proportion of mothers working part-time hasn’t changed much but the number of full-timers has risen markedly, which is what’s driving the increase in working mothers.”
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The rising proportion of mothers in work over the last 15 years is a ringing endorsement of family-friendly working practices such as better parental leave and pay, and the right to request flexible working.
“The expansion of quality, affordable childcare through Sure Start centres, now under threat due to local government cuts, has also helped parents find work.
“It is deeply worrying that the Government is about to turn the clock back by abandoning plans to extend family-friendly working, cutting childcare tax credits and forcing hundreds of thousands of women out of work through mass public sector job cuts.”
From the Press Association