Women don’t just need employment protection whilst on maternity leave, they also need support to transition back into work, according to diversity consultancy, The Clear Company.
|Time to return to work?|
In light of recent reports from The Women and Equalities Committee and calls from MPs to address the discrimination pregnant women and new mothers face at work, The Clear Company has urged businesses to consider long term support for these individuals.
The diversity consultancy has outlined that while ensuring women can return to work after maternity leave is vital, providing them with the training and support they need to transition back into work is crucial to prevent them from feeling alienated from the rest of the workplace upon their return.
Kate Headley, Development Director at The Clear Consultancy, explains:
“While the numerous initiatives to encourage more women back to work after maternity leave are positive moves to address the issue, there are additional supplements that employers must consider in order to retain these individuals long term. Yes more females need protection at work in terms of being able to return to their job, but they also need support in making this transition.
Business owners need to remember that these individuals have gone through a time of incredible change and have been away from work for a lengthy period. Not only are they likely to consider the impact of working hours on their home life, but there’s also the potential that they will hit a few bumps in the road when they start back as they learn to juggle their new personal and professional lives.
“By providing greater support for women once they are back in employment, companies will really benefit from an engaged employee who feels valued and respected and is subsequently likely to have better productivity levels and be more loyal to the brand.
That’s not to say that huge amounts of money need to be invested in schemes – simple moves such as linking them up with other mothers or new parents in the business will give them a support group to turn to for advice.
If you still need convincing of the benefits of encouraging more women into work, a recent report from The Anita Borg Institute (The case for investing in women) found that Fortune 500 companies with at least three female directors saw an increase in return on invested capital by at least 66%, return on sales by 42%, and return on equity by at least 53%.”
I left work in 2007 to have Caitlin and have since worked from home but I can understand how daunting it is to return to full time employment, even more so after a lengthier gap than statutory maternity leave. Not only would you have to renew working relationships and make new contacts, but all your previous skills (particularly IT) will need to be refreshed.
Many returners suffer a huge crisis of confidence at returning, coupled with the guilt and sadness of leaving their children, even if it is for a few hours a day. And well-paid part time jobs, particularly in my previous sector, Legal Services, are few and far between, which is a huge consideration when thinking about childcare costs.
I know of many women whose salary is almost entirely swallowed up by childcare costs but they continue working for the social aspect and because they need to contribute and maintain their professional qualifications.
I think a lot more could be done to ease a new mum’s -or a stay-at-home parent’s – return to work but, in my view, childcare is the biggest issue which needs to be addressed before we even think about continuing our careers.