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The UK’s maternity and paternity benefits ‘are completed outdated’

One in seven of the 1,518 polled have already left a job due to poor perks at a time when they needed help the most.

While a further two thirds are prepared to switch careers if the leave and pay schemes don’t improve for new mums and dads.

And one third believe British businesses desperately need to update and improve their policies to allow for more time off, and better pay.

It also emerged more than half (52 per cent) fear losing their job while on maternity or paternity leave.

One in 10 respondents have also been unhappy with the amount of time off they have previously received.

Of those, more than a third (36 per cent) said this negative feeling led them to be less motivated to do a good job when they returned to work.

David Duffy, CEO of Virgin Money, which commissioned the research to launch its new ‘A Life More Virgin’ benefits and flexible working package to colleagues, said: “The pandemic has permanently changed our approach to working life.

“It’s clear to us that by taking a purpose-driven approach to how we work, we can help colleagues achieve a work-life balance that brings out their best.

“We have listened to how colleagues want to work and what benefits are most important, and as a result we’re bringing in A Life More Virgin, our compelling package for all colleagues that reflects the world we live in today.

“This includes equal parental leave, generous holidays with additional wellbeing days, and flexibility on where people work.”

Other worries about parental leave include not being paid enough during time away from work (58 per cent) and not being given enough time off in the first place (51 per cent).

More than half (58 per cent) feared missing out on promotions or opportunities while on maternity or paternity leave.

Nearly one in three (29 per cent) working parents and expectant parents think statutory leave in the UK is outdated.

While 28 per cent believe it doesn’t support fathers enough – while a further 26 per cent feel the UK lags behind other countries.

As well as parental leave, employees also expect their company to offer 30 days annual leave (55 per cent), wellbeing days (39 per cent), private medical insurance (31 per cent) and the opportunity to work remotely abroad each year (28 per cent).

Nearly half (46 per cent) of those polled say a shared approach to parental leave would help lessen the burden on mothers.

And a further four in 10 believe it would provide families with greater financial freedom to decide what works for them from a career point of view.

It also emerged that more than half (54 per cent) think guilty feelings for working and spending time apart from their child in its early years are among the biggest challenges to working parents.

Another 51 per cent worry about being able to manage logistics of childcare while working, including dropping off and picking up from nursery or school.