‘You should just have another child and then you won’t need to worry about finding a job.’

mother and child

For a system that is determined that mothers of young children should go out to work, there is impressively little help for anyone who wants to find a job – as Shauna Gauntlett has discovered:

I’m a mum looking to get back into work. I have previously been self-employed but my work has dried up. Because my husband works full time, I have been told by many professionals that I am not entitled to any help. I have also been turned down for jobs because I need childcare friendly hours. When I asked for help from Dundee Council’s Working for Families I was sent to an information session for prospective employers at the job centre, and because I had to bring my son with me I was made to feel like an inconvenience. I was interviewed by a lady from a prospective employer who asked why I couldn’t work full time. I said because I simply can’t afford childcare. I don’t have an amazingly supportive family who I can ask to mind my son all the time, and they have other caring commitments. I stated I wanted to work in the care sector, which I was what I was lead to believe his information session was all about. The woman the said to me, ‘So you want a part time job so you can go on maternity leave again?’ I was mortified. ‘You should just have another child and then you won’t need to worry about finding a job.’ I have since learned this person no longer works for the agency and left a trail of devastation in her wake.

When I went to another, council-run, information session for prospective care employers, I was again made to feel like an inconvenience because I had my son. I was made to wait in the reception until they could figure out what to do with me. The place was packed, and when someone finally came out to see me I was asked on at least three occasions why I wanted to work in the care sector. I replied that I have worked in this sector for many years and feel I could be an asset to any employer. The gentleman’s response was, ‘So do many others in this hall’, making me feel like I was wasting my time. When I was asked to come back to an interview that afternoon I had to decline, as I had no childcare, to which the guy’s response was, ‘Oh well, come back in six months.’ This is a sector that claims to be in crisis, but if that is how they treat prospective employees I certainly don’t want to work for them. I was so angry I contacted my local councilor who agreed to help me with my CV.

Right now I have no confidence and feel badly let down by the very people who are supposed to help me. The one interview I do have coming up isn’t even for sustained work, it would be a one-off job. I know of many parents who are in my position, who would love to go to work but due to the extortionate cost of childcare simply can’t. It’s like you are a burden to society for having children, and if you dare ask the state for help you are met with hostility. In a country that has an ageing population that can’t be a good thing.

[The Scottish Government provides more help with childcare than in the past , but it is still not nearly enough.]

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