Employers narrow-minded on maternity leave

Almost two thirds of employers do not expect female employees to return to work after their maternity leave, research finds.

Almost two thirds of employers do not expect female employees to return to work after their maternity leave, research finds.

Some 47 per cent of this group chalk their belief up to ‘previous experience’, according to a study of almost 2,000 employers by online HR consultancy Reabur.com.

The study was conducted following Mel Stride, Conservative MP for Central Devon, recently questioning the rules that allow staff from companies employing ten or fewer people to take up to 52 weeks off.

According to the research, the majority, 64 per cent simply don’t expect any female employee to return to work following their allocated maternity leave, regardless of her position or role within the company.

Reabur.com managing director Kirsty Burgess says, ‘Having a child needn’t change women’s career choices at all, and employers shouldn’t necessarily expect a member of staff not to return.

‘Although many women do indeed decide to take further time off, this is in no way the norm, especially with the rising cost of childcare it has become more essential for women to return to work. This is a personal decision for an individual to make, and employers need to be really careful about making assumptions – if that message gets back to the employee they could find themselves defending a discrimination claim.’

The respondents were asked if they had a ‘return to work policy’ in place for mothers returning from maternity leave, to which two fifths, 41 per cent, said ‘Yes’. These respondents were then asked if the policy offered the employee part time working hours, to which more than three quarters, 76 per cent, stated that it did.

When asked ‘When a member of your staff embark on their maternity leave, do you want them to return to work following their allocated time off?’ 16 per cent answered ‘No’. These respondents were then asked to explain their decision, to which 38 per cent said it was because they believed that the employee would have a ‘reduced level of concentration’ once they returned to work.

Furthermore, 23 per cent of the respondents who stated that they didn’t want the employee to return after maternity leave claimed that it was because they would ‘lack enthusiasm,’ when compared to a newly hired member of staff.

Nick Britton

Alba Harber

Nick was the Managing Editor for our sister website growthbusiness.co.uk when it was owned by Vitesse Media, before moving on to become Head of Investment Group and Editor at What Investment and thence...

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Maternity Leave