2,254 people responded to our 2016 survey
41% of those working returned to the same job they were in before maternity leave, whilst 59% returned to a new job after their last period off work.
62% of those working had 12 months or less of work before returning. 26% took between 1-6 months off, and 36% took 7-12 months off. 21% had more than 2 years away from working.
Most respondents got the flexible working they requested, but 26% did not with 12% feeling their employer did not even consider their request at all
Generally women are returning to work for financial reasons (70%), although 28% wanted to continue their career path, 13% wanted a new challenge, and 10% returned to work because their children started school.
When returning to work after maternity leave, 30% returned full time, with 56% returning on a part time basis and the remainder with some other kind of flexibility (like compressed hours, for example).
The majority of those currently working (64%) consider their job to be flexible. Of those working part time, 54% say they work between 1 and 9 hours extra per week, outside of their contracted hours. 75% of people are logging on to emails outside of their working hours.
We asked what would help respondents with their career development. 53% said ‘more flexible working’, and 50% want to see more flexible working opportunities on the job market.
4% work on a job share basis. 42% work for an SME, and 28% work for a company with more than 500 employees. 17% work in the public sector, and 13% are self employed.
59% feel like they have to work harder in the workplace to overcome unconscious bias against working mums/flexible workers.
46% of those in work say they use their own parents to help reduce childcare costs, whilst 33% are using nurseries, 16% childminders and 10% have friends to look after their children. 27% have children in school and work during school hours so don’t require childcare. 46% think that their childcare arrangements are not flexible enough for their needs.
Of those not currently working, 50% say that childcare costs are making it difficult for them to return to work. 39% are planning to send their child to nursery once they go back to work, with 32% having grandparents help out. 24% intend to use a childminder.
38% of all survey respondents would consider full time work over part time work if childcare was cheaper, and 51% said Government plans for childcare help (tax rebate and 30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds) would not make a difference to their situation.
When asked if they would consider taking shared parental leave with their partner, 64% said no and 36% said yes. Of those who would not consider it, 47% said it was because it would not make financial sense for them to do so. 15% said their partner’s career would suffer. 14% said that their partner/spouse did not want to share the parental leave. 40% said enhanced Shared Parental Pay would make a difference to their decision.
When asked how they would split leave if they were going to share, 83% said they would take more leave than their partner, 13% said they would split it evenly and 4% said their partner/spouse would take more leave than them.
Most of our respondents who are not working were last in paid employment in the last 12 months (52%). 28% left work to have children and be a stay at home mum/dad, 22% were made redundant, 5% left because their request for flexible working was denied, 12% wanted a change and 11% found juggling it all too hard. 22% are currently on maternity/paternity leave.
Of those currently on maternity leave, the following would help;
50% of mums currently on maternity leave had not yet discussed flexible working upon their return to work. 22% had already had their request refused on a range of grounds; It would have a detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demands (21%); It will be impossible to reorganise work amongst existing staff (23%); There were already planned structural changes (17%). 68% of those who’s request had been refused felt that the refusal was not justified, but 79% have not appealed the decision. 41% say that the flexible working refusal means they will not return to their former job after maternity leave, and a further 37% are not yet sure.
We asked all parents, working or not, what factors our users thought made a ‘family friendly company’. Offering flexible hours for full time jobs was rated highest at 80%, followed by allowing regular work at home (76%), offering part time jobs (68%), offering more flexibility during school holidays (72%) and allowing holiday days to be taken at short notice to deal with sick children etc (67%). Less important were extended maternity pay periods, networking and support groups, parenting courses and childcare help (although at 54% this still rated fairly high compared to the other items).
Homeworking for some of the time or having flexible working hours rated highly in terms of what would encourage working parents to work full time rather than part time (65% and 58% respectively).