Just one in 10 working mums take a full year’s maternity leave as reports reveal many are worried they put their career at risk. A report by Slater and Gordon showed that nearly half of working mothers weren’t happy with how they were treated from announcing their pregnancy to returning to the office, with concerns being raised that bosses aren’t doing enough to support their workforce.
While it’s illegal for employers to unfavourably treat pregnant workers, 11% still admitted that taking too much time off to raise their child would damage their career and one in five took less than five months off. A third of mothers believed they wouldn’t be supported by their managers for any longer than the time they took off, and 39% were worried they wouldn’t have a job to return to.
Coming back to work after maternity leave, more than one in three found their role within the office had changed, and around a fifth of women admitted they felt they needed to regularly check emails, take calls and even go into work during their maternity. Nearly half of women say bosses’ and colleagues’ attitudes changed immediately after the pregnancy announcement.
With some claiming their co-workers considered the leave ‘free time off,’ or that it was ‘their fault’ for getting pregnant, 8% found themselves at the risk of redundancy after giving birth. Producing a quick and digestible video for pregnant women facing discrimination, Slater and Gordon is encouraging mums to speak out sooner rather than later.
“Women shouldn’t have to put up with inappropriate comments or behaviour regarding their pregnancy; if it happens they should immediately talk to their line manager or human resources,” said Slater and Gordon employment lawyer, Harriet Bowtell. “Women should act fast if they can – they only have three months to enforce their legal rights from the date of the act of discrimination, if they have to do that.”