“I’ve had all three of my children while working in the Civil Service; my first in 1995, second in 1999 and third in 2001. Even back then it was possible to work flexibly. Though not as flexible as today where our IT kit supports a myriad of work patterns and where very much anyone can work flexibly, not just those with children. I don’t think I’d have been able to juggle childcare and work without the flexibility the Civil Service offered me.
I’ve worked in many different departments from Jobcentres (as they were called), the Government Equalities Office, the Home Office and the Department for Education. I was able to work flexibly wherever I moved to. While my trajectory up the ranks may have been slower because of working part time hours and taking maternity leave, my progress was not permanently stalled. It’s true to say that back then, where it was fairly easy to get agreement to work a 3 day week, for example, it was not so easy (depending on your line manager) to get permission to work flexibly within those 3 days so you could drop your child off at nursery and pick up at the end of the day. I remember being repeatedly marked late in one role for arriving at work a little after 9 am. Over time, the culture of the organisation has improved significantly and line managers are more understanding and supportive.
I believe the Civil Service is able to retain many able and committed individuals because of the way it has allowed them to juggle caring responsibilities and a career. Now my kids are grown up I can look back with a smile at how it all worked out in the endÄ hard as it was juggling both!”