⎯    Caring full time for a baby puts you in breach of Articles 3, 5 and 6 (b) of 2003 directive

⎯    Mothers Day should be extended to Mothers Month says Clintons
⎯    Mums exceed maximum working hours, are not given adequate rest periods and do not receive paid annual leave from their baby employers

The number of hours each week that British mothers spend looking after their children would be in breach of the European Union’s Working Time Directive if this work were to be treated in the same way as paid employment, research by leading greeting card and gift retailer Clintons has revealed. 

The Working Time Directive states that employees should work no longer than 48 hours per week. Workers are also entitled to a rest period of eleven consecutive hours in every 24-hour day, a rest break every six hours of work; an uninterrupted rest period of 24 hours in every seven day week, and paid annual leave of at least four weeks every year.  Employees who work night shifts have extra protection and cannot be asked to work more than eight hours in a 24-hour period. 

Baby experts recommend that a baby between the ages of 12-18 months should sleep for around 14 hours a day, meaning a parent is actively looking after their child for the remaining ten hours. Across a 7-day period, this comes to a minimum of 70 hours a week, exceeding the maximum limit of a 48-hour working week specified by Article 6 (b) of the Working Time Directive by a shocking 22 hours. On top of this 70-hour minimum, mothers also have several hours of ancillary work each day and are constantly “on call” to respond to any emergencies, meaning their actual rest period is often reduced to six hours a day. 

Of the 14 hours of sleep a baby should get each day, around three hours come in the form of daytime naps, and the remaining 11 hours come at night. Article 3 of the Working Time Directive states that workers are entitled to a “minimum daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours per 24-hour period” and therefore getting up in the middle of the night if the baby starts crying would be in breach of this rule. 

Looking after a baby for seven days a week is also in breach of Article 5 which specifies that “per each seven-day period, every worker is entitled to a minimum uninterrupted rest period of 24 hours plus the 11 hours’ daily rest referred to in Article 3.”

Article 7 of the 2003 EU directive states that “every worker is entitled to paid annual leave of at least four weeks.” A Clintons survey of babies found that 0% of them had made provisions to fulfil this requirement. 

Tim Fairs, director at Clintons, said: “Mothers put in a huge amount of work, week in and week out, looking after their kids. Often this work goes completely unrewarded. Mothers’ Day is an opportunity to say thank you for everything mums do, but we shouldn’t wait for just one special day every year to acknowledge their hard work. We should celebrate mums every day of the year.”

Mother’s Day originated in the United States in 1908 when Anna Jarvis from West Virginia held a memorial for her mother. During the Second World War, American soldiers brought the celebration to the UK, where it merged with the older religious festival of Mothering Sunday when people would return to their mother church for a service held on the fourth Sunday of Lent known as Laetare Sunday. 

Introduced in 2003, the European Union’s Working Time Directive (2003/88/EC) gives workers within the EU certain rights relating to numbers of hours worked each week, annual holiday entitlement, rest breaks and days off. 

In the UK, workers have the option to work in excess of the 48 hours specified by the working time directive if they choose to, however this option does not apply to employees in all sectors. The statutory leave period in the UK is 5.6 weeks per year. 

Tim Fairs, added: “Many mothers – and fathers – work incredibly hard all year round and never have a day off. No matter how old you are, take a moment this Mothers’ Day to let your mum know how much you appreciate her.”