In the UK, the unemployment rate for Feb-April of 2022 was just 3.8%. This is the lowest unemployment rate we’ve seen since 1973. On the one hand, this is great news for the economy. But on the other hand, it means that there’s a severe skills shortage as so much of the population is already employed. We’ll take a look at why employing parents returning to work could be the answer to many employers’ recruitment problems.

Why Employ Parents Returning to Work

While the unemployment rate may be at its lowest in almost 50 years, as of April 2019, a large percentage of parents of dependent children were not working. In fact, ONS figures show that 24.9% of mothers and 7.4% of fathers with dependent children were unemployed. This suggests that there is a huge talent pool of people returning to work after parental leave that employers can aim to attract.

Benefits of Employing Returning Parents

Unfortunately, many employers overlook returning parents, not realising the skills they possess and the value they offer as employees. These individuals have the potential to fill the skills gaps within your business and hold many enhanced skills.

Here are just some of the benefits of hiring returning parents:

A Fresh Perspective

It is very common for employees and the management structure to get caught up in the fast-paced environment of UK business. Having the fresh perspective of a parent who has spent a considerable amount of time out of work will help to keep your organisation on track.

As returning parents will now fall into a new customer category, they will also have a first-hand insight into the mindset of these consumers. This is something many businesses can tap into and use to their advantage when targeting this segment of the market.

Work Ethic

Unlike others candidates who may have been unemployed for a considerable amount of time, parents returning to work have not actually stopped working. They have been hard at work in other ways during the time they have been unemployed.

Many parents will argue that taking care of a child is more stressful and tiring than their regular employment. This means that an employee’s drive to return to work can be significant, and they’re ready to be incredibly efficient members of staff.


Raising a child is no small task, especially for first-time parents. Returning parents will have newfound resilience and patience which are skills that transfer extremely well to the workplace. This can also relate to challenging themselves further than before. Return-to-work parents have increased perseverance and determination to successfully complete tasks and overcome problems.

New Skills

Return-to-work parents have a host of transferable skills that they can bring to the workplace. As a parent, they’ve had to deal with certain situations that many other employees will have no experience with. They’ll have dramatically improved management, delegation, and time-management skills. Parents returning to work will also possess greater emotional intelligence and will be better at conflict resolution.

How to Attract and Retain Returning Parents

There are many ways for employers to attract return-to-work parents. Overall, returning parents need an employer who understands their new life situation and where their priorities now lie. Communication is your most valuable tool here, so all lines of communication must be kept open and advertised as so. Mutual understanding between employee and employer is key to success.

Here are just a few of the ways that employers can attract and retain parents returning to work:

Flexible Hours / Remote Working

Offering flexible working or providing remote working is key to attracting and retaining returning parents. Transitioning back to work is an emotional and challenging time for parents. Therefore, offering them the flexibility to find a work/life balance that suits them is essential. They will be doing their best to work around their other commitments.

Providing this flexibility will further embed a sense of loyalty and support from your company, which in turn will improve job satisfaction. And as a recent Glassdoor study shows, employee satisfaction is good for the bottom line.

Family-Friendly Workplaces

As an employer, you can aim to foster a family-friendly environment in the workplace. This will entice parents who are returning to work to choose you over an employer who doesn’t share these values. Events like “bring your kids to work” days and family-friendly outings do wonders for employee morale. They also help adopt an inclusive atmosphere for parents who may otherwise feel out of the loop.

Understand CV Gaps

Many parents returning to work will have lost confidence after a prolonged period out of the workplace. There will, of course, be gaps in their CV which reflect their time spent raising their children. As we previously mentioned, it’s better to see these CV gaps as time spent honing other valuable transferable skills. By empathising with what parents have to offer, you’ll boost their confidence and build a stronger workforce.

Employing Returning Parents: Advice for Employers

As we’ve seen, there is an array of great reasons why employing returning parents can be good for business. Not only does it benefit the parents who are looking for work, but it’s also mutually beneficial for employers who are attracting highly skilled workers.

Refreshing a Career has a range of useful resources and guidance for employers.

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