The majority of working mothers are still frustrated by the lack of flexible working options available to them, according to research.
A poll of 1,100 mothers by job site Workingmums.co.uk, found that 73% believed the lack of appropriate flexible work was the biggest barrier to returning to work.
The research also showed that 16% of respondents had had their flexible working requests turned down, sometimes without any consideration at all. Only 31% were granted flexibility on the terms they had requested, while 26% reached a compromise.
The lack of flexibility also meant that employers were likely to lose their employees after maternity leave, with 75% of respondents revealing that they were looking for another job. And 55% said that they started new jobs rather than returning to their previous employers.
Flexible working was cited as the most important factor for mothers returning to work, with flexi-hours cited as the most desirable arrangement (86%).
In terms of making the transition back to work as easy as possible, respondents said the best option was a staggered return to work, increasing their number of hours over time (50%).
Of the mothers polled who had returned to work, 42% were happy with the transition. However, 29% said they would have liked more time to settle back in 15% said they would have liked more contact with their employer while they had been on maternity leave and 15% said they would have benefited from a series of meetings before going back to the office.
Gillian Nissim, founder of Workingmums.co.uk, said: "Improving the retention rates of working mums can help reduce staff turnover and recruitment costs. Why would any employer want to lose these highly skilled and experienced employees?
"Therefore, it is important that colleagues and employers maintain relationships with each other. Both parties want to be kept in the loop. Respondents reported that occasional contact with their teams, access to work e-mails as well as invitations to social events during their maternity leave, all proved beneficial for when it was time to return."