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Mothers returning to work still find it difficult because employers aren't supportive

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

More than one in three women (39%) said they found going back to work after having a baby ‘difficult' or ‘very difficult', with 31% claiming their relationship with their boss had deteriorated since they had become pregnant. 

This is despite businesses implementing a host of HR policies aimed at successfully welcoming mothers back into the workplace.
The study, which surveyed over 1,500 mothers who have recently gone back to work, also found 32% felt their promotion prospects had been reduced since having a baby, while 13% said they have 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, enabling them to adjust their working pattern to suit their needs.

Almost nine out of 10 mothers (88%) who were surveyed wanted to work flexibly on their return to work but 16% said their request for flexible working practices had gone nowhere.  

To help guide both mothers and employers through a smooth return to the workplace, the NCT and the charity, Working Families, have published two free downloadable guides available from www.nct.org.uk/returningtowork or www.workingfamilies.org.uk

Tips on maternity leave for employers:

· Have a written maternity policy which sets out an employee's maternity rights and employer's obligations
· Develop a back-to-work plan which encourages a smooth reintegration for your returning employee and the rest of the team
· Hold regular reviews to check progress and make any necessary adjustments to keep things running smoothly
· Draw up a mutually-agreed communications plan  to help you both keep in touch during maternity leave
· On the day your employee leaves for maternity remember to wish them good luck