A significant number of women have cut short their maternity leave or are considering doing so due to the recession, according to a Workingmums.co.uk poll.
The poll of just under 120 women on maternity leave found 42% of working mums had cut down on the time they had anticipated taking off for maternity leave. A further 24% were considering doing so. A smaller number – 34% – had not changed their maternity plans.
One woman said: “I’ve had to cut back due to financial reasons, extra energy bills, council tax and loans taken out to keep up with payments.”
Another said her boss had cut short her leave, even though statutorily women are entitled to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, should they wish to take them. The first 26 weeks is known as ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’, the last 26 weeks as ‘Additional Maternity Leave’. Those on OML have the right to return to their original job. Those on AML have the right to their job or a similar job (if it’s not possible to give them their old job). Similar means the job has the same or better terms and conditions. If the employee unreasonably refuses to take the similar job the employer can take this as their resignation. However, an employer cannot decide unilaterally that a woman can no longer cope in a role and reduce their salary, hours or responsibilities.
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Since the recession began, Workingmums.co.uk has been receiving an unprecedented number of emails from women on maternity leave who have had flexible working requests turned down, often apparently without due consideration, or are experiencing threats to their jobs.
If you are experiencing problems at work over potential pregnancy or maternity discrimination go to our Advice and Support page where you can search the answers or send a question to our employment law experts.