THE REALITY OF MATERNITY LEAVE
LUKE HUTCHINGS >
New mothers are not using their full maternity leave because of fears over job security; statistics show that nearly 50% of mothers fear they will be dismissed if they do not return to work early. 4% of mothers return to work in less than two weeks after giving birth.
The first year of a child’s life is an important time for parents to bold with their babies, to establish patterns and see developmental milestones. Can the Government do more for parents in order for them to be there for their child in the first year?
Women have been protected from being dismissed during maternity leave since the Labour Government introduced it. The Coalition Government brought in rules so that both parents can share the parental roles. However the statistics discovered by the National Childbirth Trust (“NCT”) illustrate the reality behind the rules:
- 43% of mothers on maternity leave plan to re-enter the workforce earlier than they would prefer. Of these, 47 per cent said this was because of worries over job security;
- 37% of women say they would not even consider sharing their leave with the baby’s father/their partner (despite the Coalition introducing new rules which mean parents will be able to share all but the first two weeks of the maternity leave from April 2015). Of the 37%, half said this was because they needed the income from their partner’s pay;
- 4% of mothers say they took less than two weeks maternity leave; and
- 30% of women said they would be worried about job security if they took advantage of flexible working and only 59 per cent of women were even aware they could ask for it.
Belinda Phipps, the NCT chief executive, said: “…if the Government wants parents to make use of shared parental leave they will need to increase dads’ paternity pay. It is high time we saw maternity and paternity pay raised – at least in line with the minimum wage – so that parents have greater choice about when to go back to work.”
Parents are facing tough decisions, with pay and job security being the two aspects at the forefront of their minds.
The shadow minister for Women and Equalities, Gloria De Piero, said: “When families across Britain are struggling with the rising cost of living, it’s particularly worrying that new mums have the added strain of fear of redundancy.”
What is the next step to encourage mothers to take their full entitlement AND to protect parents from fear?
If you have any questions regarding maternity leave or any employment law issue, please contact us on 01733 333 333 for our Peterborough office or 020 3540 4444 for our London office.
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