Hundreds of parents descended on Trafalgar Square on Friday to dance their way to flexible working rights.
The campaign was started by blogger Anna Whitehouse to encourage more employers to offer flexible working to their employees.
According to recruitment company Timewise, 8.7 million UK workers want to work flexibly – meaning part time, or remotely.
New legislation in 2014 gave employees who have worked at a company for more than six months the right to ask for flexible working, but it doesn’t mean employers have to say yes.
At the flashmob, the backing track to Let’s Talk About Sex rang out as mums, and some dads, danced and sang:
“Let’s talk about flex baby,
When you’re on the PAYE,
Let’s talk about all the good things and all the bad things of productivity,
Let’s talk about flex.”
We asked women attending what they would say to employers.
‘We love our children, but we love our jobs too!’ – Hazel, Brixton
“We are here because we are about to embark on the shared maternity/paternity leave system and both mine and my husband’s workplaces have made it really easy for us. I’m really thankful that our workplaces have been so amazing, and when I go back to work they are going to be great about flexible working – but I’ve heard a lot of stories about women have haven’t had it so easy.
“However, I know it’s not that easy for lots of other women, so we’re here in solidarity.”
It shouldn’t matter where you do ‘it’, as long as you get ‘it’ done! – Nicole, South London
“I’m not working currently, and the biggest reason for that is that my partner’s employer won’t provide flexible working. This means I can’t work.
“His working hours are extremely long and we just can’t do the logistics for both of us working. So I’m here for dads to get flexible working, not just mums.”
‘Flexibility is the future of work!’ – Rachel, London
“I’m here today because I think flexibility is super important. If employers don’t sign up to it now, they are going to get left behind.
“It’s been proven time and time again that people want flexibility over salary increases or anything else in the workplace.”
‘Flexibility is the definition of being a parent. Catch up!’ – Sophie and Carol, Buckinghamshire
Mother and daughter Sophie and Carol came to the flash mob together.
“Women should be able to have families and get out into the workplace, if they want to. Otherwise it’s a waste of education and we go back to the fifties,” says Carol.
Sophie agrees: ”Having a family doesn’t have to mean the end of your working life. We can make a real contribution.
“I’m grateful to my employer for offering flexible working, but other companies need to catch up.”
‘It’s about being a role model for the future’ – Jodie, Walthamstow
“I’ve come to support because I’ve been one of the lucky ones to have been granted flexible working, as of last week. I want to show that you can make it work. When you have children, it throws up a whole other life/work balance.
“London is a hard city to live and work in, so going back to work in that environment will be tough. Employers have to listen because you can be just as efficient. In fact, being a mother can make you more efficient because you never have enough time.
“It’s not about nine to five, in London it’s often eight to eight. Before I had my child, I was the first person in my company to ask for flexible working and they granted it. I want to show that it can work.”
‘Once you lose us, you lose a great team of people’ – Shamira, West London
“I’ve also been a victim of it not being provided. Back in 2015, I wasn’t given the opportunity to take up flexible working. I was told I had to come back to work full time and do all the travel, even with a young baby.
“I had met with my company directors prior being told this and they said they would look into me working from home, or doing two or three days a week, so it was a big shock.
“We have a lot to offer in the workplace and it’s a real shame that some businessmen and women find it difficult to place us in the workplace and help us balance our personal and work lives.
“I really hope the Government will put things into places so. Not everyone wants to be a stay at home mum.”
‘Mamas have ambition’ – Lauren, Norfolk
“I came to support what Anna’s doing because, as a mum, I’ve had a lot of friends who were pushed out of employment or made to feel like they didn’t offer as much as other people.
“However, in reality we have as much to offer as everybody else, and in some respects we can offer more with the limited time we have, rather than pushing ourselves to come in nine to five.”