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    Bridging the maternity gap

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    If you are an expectant mother who doesn’t want to give up her career, the professional tide has turned in your favour. A number of companies are working hard to ensure that they don’t lose valuable, experienced PAs by providing cover incentives and flexible working schemes. For instance, one new recruitment firm provides a financial reward. The first UK employment agency to specialise solely in cross-sector maternity cover, MaternityCover.com will be giving up to £1,000 cash (or the same value in retail vouchers) to every pregnant woman whose vacancy is covered by the agency, the equivalent of seven weeks of statutory maternity pay.


    Following its nationwide launch on 6 August, MaternityCover.com is also rewarding the first 50 mums who successfully refer the firm to their employers with a free Apple iPad 2.

    Additionally, prospects have improved for those coming back to work after leave. According to new research from recruitment specialist Robert Half, the majority (83%) of female employees move into part-time or flexible working roles on their return. This rises to 92% of employees in London and the South East, but falls to 78% in the Midlands and 70% in the North and Scotland. 

    Further to this, almost three-quarters (71%) of companies say that they already provide flexible working, while a further 13% are planning to put measures for it in place. Other initiatives to help retain new mothers include part-time or job share opportunities (58%), childcare vouchers (32%), on-site childcare (18%), telecommuting (17%) and family health and dental plans (16%). 

    Mothers may also need to ensure that they get enough support from their other half. Despite the fact that organisations are legally obliged to offer one or two weeks’ paternity leave, two-thirds (66%) of new dads fail to take their maximum allocation. Fathers in London and the South East are more likely to take the full allowance (37% in both instances) than those in the Midlands or North (30% in both instances). 

    The main reasons for new fathers not taking maximum leave are financial considerations (62%), followed by societal pressures (41%), excessive workload (34%) and perception in the workplace (25%). Money is less of an issue in London and the South East than in the South West and Wales, Midlands and the North and Scotland, while perception in the workplace was cited by a higher proportion of respondents than average in the North and Scotland. It seems that while policy improves, the support given to new parents by their office has a way to go.

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    Molly Dyson

    Former Editor – PA Life

    All stories by: Molly Dyson