Mothers returning to work after having a baby are being forced into accepting lower paid, part-time jobs, a recent study has revealed.
The survey of 1,600 part-time working mothers by Netmums and the Resolution Foundation, found that almost half (44%) had to take on a lower-paid and less skilled job when they returned to work after their maternity leave.
Nearly half of women (48%) on a lower paid to middle wage felt that they would have been offered a higher paid role if they went back to work on full time basis.
However, 70% of the mothers polled admitted that full-time work wasn't an option due to sky-high childcare costs, leaving the majority opting for part-time flexible hours instead.
They also added that they preferred part-time work because they could juggle work and family life easier during the early stages of their child's life.
A third of women on higher paid wages said they felt the same and were happy to work part-time because the longer hours entailed in full-time work would not end up being financially beneficial to them in the long-run.
Over two thirds (67%) said that although they were happy with the part-time aspect of their job, they were frustrated that there were limits on over time, meaning no opportunities to earn extra money.
More than half felt that part-time work tends to be concentrated in low paid and low-skilled jobs where opportunities for progression may be limited.
The majority said they found it almost impossible to find work that paid a salary commensurate with their skills.
Netmums co-founder, Sally Russell, accused employers of "wasting an incredible talent pool" and said in a statement: "It's unbelievable that women are encouraged to climb the career ladder only to be forced back to the lowest rung when they have children.
"Netmums calls for employers to be more open to the idea of creating part-time roles at all levels within their organisations. Those that do so will find they have highly skilled, loyal and productive staff."
Vidya Alakeson, director at the Resolution Foundation, added in a joint statement:
"Childcare costs are a big issue in the UK and are eating up a large chuck of household incomes, stopping women from working longer hours if they want to ease the squeeze on their household finances. Such barriers to work are bad news for the economy, but also bad news for the living standards of households, already struggling in the current climate".
Despite the lack of support for working mums, a recent study revealed that having a baby can make a woman perform better at work.
Netmums founder and working mum Siobhan Freegard told The Huffington Post: "Two in five managers believe mums work faster and can multi-task more while a third said mums are more motivated and responsible.
"Many employers we speak to prefer to employ working mums as they are more productive and don't come in with hangovers like some younger staff.
"Having a child changes a women's outlook and maybe you will want to work part time, try flexible working or alter your hours, but look at what you have learned from becoming a mum to boost your career and help improve your company.
"Maybe you can see a gap in the market for how your firm can help sell to mums, for example. It's natural to feel nervous when you go back to work but don't worry. You are still you, still capable of doing the job - but you now have a whole new set of skills to do excel at your work even better."
This study comes a day after the Social Market Foundation appealed for Government support on a 'use now, pay later' scheme for childcare.
In a report, the SMF proposed a 'National Childcare Contribution Scheme' that would give parents access to up to Â£10,000 from the Government to pay for childcare, which they would then pay back as a monthly contribution through the tax system.
SMF director Ian Mulheorn, said in a statement: "Childcare costs impose a huge burden on families for a relatively short period of time.
"This has a real impact on families household budgets and can mean that it's simply not viable for some parents to go to work, despite the real benefits to both their earning power and their children's development offered by formal childcare.
"By helping parents spread the cost through manageable monthly contributions, this innovative scheme can help parents do what's best for themselves and their children."