Mums feel pressure to cut back on maternity leave

The vast majority of mums feel they have been pressured into coming back from maternity leave earlier than they would have liked or have had to start their leave later than they wanted to, according to a poll.

The poll found this was particularly true for women who had been on maternity leave in the last year. Some 92% of the over 400 women polled said they had felt under pressure to come back to work early or stay on at work later than they wanted.

One per cent had felt pressure to come back early in the last five years and three per cent had felt pressure to return early more than five years ago. Four per cent had felt no pressure.

There is concern that financial pressures may be forcing women to return to work as soon as possible. The’s 2013 survey showed 62% of those working had taken less than 12 months off before returning to work. Some 32% took between one and six months off, 3% up on the previous year, and 30% took between seven and 12 months off. Some 23% had more than two years away from working.  Growing numbers are also turning to self employment from which there is no right to maternity leave or to statutory maternity pay.

Generally women said they were returning to work because for financial reasons.

One woman who took part in the poll said that she had had to take out a grievance to get the hours she wanted when she returned and said mums needed to know their rights and fight for them. “What I have learnt from my experience is not to give up but to keep on trying as we all have rights as working parents which employers have a duty to help with.”

Another spoke of the long hours culture in nursing and a ‘like it or leave’ attitude by managers. She said she had witnessed open hostility to mums and little understanding of the impact of working overtime on childcare plans and on children. She added that many of the managers were mums themselves who had been able to take career breaks when their children were young.

Comments [1]

  • Anonymous says:

    I know of many people who have had to resign from their jobs because employers won't meet their flexible working requests. I also know people that worked part time before maternity leave and the employers changed their job description whilst they were on maternity leave and they were told they had to return full time. I am also having issues post maternity leave. It just makes things stressful. Maternity pay in this country is not consistent across employers and certainly doesn't help people take time off. We are not looking after child and maternal health. Even a mum with a 1 year old (if taking 52 weeks) is still quite vulnerable in terms of pressure and stress with a young baby. It also doesn't really help with promoting breast feeding. All promoted by WHO and DOH to breastfeed until 1 year. That's made more difficult if mums can't afford to stay off work for 1 year. Yes, you can express but it isn't the same as the baby being there and feeding yourself.

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