Nearly 15% of mothers lose their jobs on return from maternity leave and 11% are replaced by their maternity leave cover, according to a survey of 1,000 women.
The survey by lawyers Slater & Gordon also found that 45% of women polled felt the job they had returned to was worse in some way to the job they had left. Further, over a quarter of women who sought to make their positions more amenable to new motherhood by requesting flexible working were refused, with almost two in five refused the right to part time hours.
Close to 20% of women said their finances suffered as a result of taking maternity leave. And more than one in 10 new mothers surveyed said they suffered physical or mental ill-health resulting from employment changes.
Samantha Mangwana, Employment lawyer at Slater & Gordon, said: “Mothers continue to suffer unfairly when returning to work.
“More than half of the women polled suffered in silence because they were either unsure of their rights, they didn’t know where to turn for help or they thought seeking help would damage their future career prospects. New mothers are especially vulnerable since it is often the first time they are wholly responsible for another life.
“The statistics revealed by this survey are sad and shocking. It is against the law to be sacked or treated unfairly because you are pregnant, or taking maternity leave. Be reassured that these legal protections are there – and they are strong.
“The law is on your side.”