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The Importance of Mums in the Workplace

Being a mother equips you with skills that are key to a successful career and intrinsic to any workplace.

Retaining the talent that has developed and grown over the years is great for business. However, the outdated assumption that some workplaces still have is that once a woman becomes pregnant, any career development comes to an end. Support can also be lacking, whilst most managers do want to do the right thing and be supportive of new mothers, they’re often unsure about what to say or do. This can result in some managers not saying anything at all, or completely getting it wrong 1.

It’s hard to return to work after maternity, 31% 2 of mothers said they found it harder than expected. Some parents say they feel guilty and anxious about missing key moments in their child’s development and it’s common for resentment to grow around the financial pressures which require a job to support the family, but also take them away from their child.

This can cause many parents to rethink their priorities as well as identifying any tensions that may arise between working and parenthood. Our Online Returners programme supports parents returning to work by delivering a boost in confidence as well as practical tools and targeted interventions to help with focus on specific areas of both work and homelife. All of which enables the safeguarding of professional, personal and mental wellbeing.

The choice to return to work is incredibly personal, and sometimes there is confusion around whether returning is mandatory. Most importantly however, being a mother equips you with fantastic skills which we will explore in this blog.

Do you have to return to work after maternity leave?

The below is correct as of 05/01/2023 and is legislative advice, so please be aware that it may change.

You have a right to return to work after having a baby and to the same job if you’ve taken 26 weeks or less. These first 26 weeks are known as ‘ordinary maternity leave’.

If you’ve taken ‘additional maternity leave’ or more than 26 weeks, you have the right to return to your job on the same terms prior to your maternity leave. However, if your organisation has changed, you can be offered a similar job but the pay, benefits, holiday, seniority, and location must be the same.

Being made redundant because you’ve been on maternity leave or have requested flexible working is against the law.

However, you don’t have to return to your job, you can resign and follow your company’s policies for leavers. One to thing to bear in mind is that if your employer offered you enhanced maternity pay, then this may be repayable if you resign from your job or leave shortly after returning from maternity leave 3.

Returning to work after maternity leave can feel daunting but mothers have incredible skills they will have learnt from becoming a mum.

This leads to some clear advantages that they can have over their counterparts:

  1. Exceptional multi-tasking skills – time is so precious to mothers. Focussing and committing to outputs takes precedence over hours spent thinking and debating. They may have a whole list of things that need doing so it’s vital that they finish on time, therefore their productivity is sky high 4.
  2. Talented problem solvers – mums can think on their feet and solve an issue quickly. With common scenarios such as a toddler having a tantrum in a supermarket to teenage meltdowns, mothers are well equipped to deal with difficult clients and customers. They are level-headed and flexible when disruptions occur 5.
  3. Highly motivated – more and more women are showing their worth in the workplace and mothers aren’t any different 6. Plus working mums are perhaps the demographic most motivated to make remote working successful as freedom and flexibility in work is key to being more present for their family and creates a much better work life balance 5.
  4. A natural Mentor and Role Model – mothers are more likely to notice when someone is struggling and will step in to help where they can. This is a real asset as her team will thrive, they will feel that they have a supportive mentor and a role model. All of this will help them to reach their full potential 6.
  5. Offer a different perspective – people who have experienced motherhood can offer a fresh and valuable new perspective to their organisation on their return. For many companies whose target markets are mothers, having them represented in the company makes excellent business sense 7.

Advancing more women in the workplace matters and companies with more women executives are more likely to outperform those with fewer senior women. With three in four mothers 8 in the workplace, accounting for 44% of all working women 9, this is a significant pool of talent which businesses cannot afford to ignore.

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/13/five-reasons-mothers-asset-workplace
  2. https://patient.info/news-and-features/looking-after-your-mental-health-when-going-back-to-work-after-having-a-baby
  3. https://www.acas.org.uk/your-maternity-leave-pay-and-other-rights/returning-to-work-after-having-a-baby
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/2016/mar/09/three-reasons-why-hiring-mothers-is-good-for-business
  5. https://www.techtarget.com/searchhrsoftware/post/5-assets-working-mothers-bring-to-the-workplace
  6. https://www.calibre-furniture.co.uk/blog/five-reasons-why-mothers-are-an-asset-in-the-workplace
  7. https://hrnews.co.uk/the-unrecognised-benefits-of-hiring-returning-mums-why-supporting-womens-return-to-the-workplace-is-vital/
  8. https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/articles/familiesandthelabourmarketengland/2021
  9. https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/working-mothers-increase-over-40-years/

Header photo by Jep Gambardella on Pexels

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