Women’s careers damaged by having babies despite equality laws

Many employers are still not giving mothers returning from maternity leave the support they need, according to research by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT).

Four in 10 women said they found going back to work after having a baby ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’, with one-third saying their relationship with their boss had deteriorated since they became pregnant.

The study, which polled more than 1,500 mothers who have recently returned to work, also found that one-third felt their promotion prospects had been reduced since having a baby, while one in seven said they had reduced seniority since returning to work.

Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the NCT, said: “The measure that matters is whether your policies and procedures work for women.

“This survey shows overall they are not working well enough yet.

“The frameworks and the correct HR policies are often there, but in practice many employers just aren’t offering the right, if any, support to a valuable proportion of their workforce.

“Line managers and those with direct responsibility for employees need to be better at making mothers feel welcome when they return to work – it’s about understanding and respect, not just processes.”

Currently, employees with caring responsibilities for children aged 16 and under have the statutory right to request to work flexibly.

Most mothers (88%) wanted to work flexibly on their return to work, but one in six (16%) said their request for flexible working had gone nowhere.

XpertHR has a range of FAQs on pregnancy and maternity rights, as well as the right to request flexible working.

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