A high proportion of women returning from maternity leave (83%) switch to part-time and/or flexible working roles, according to new research. This rises to 92% of employees in London and the South East, but falls to 70% in the North and Scotland and 78% in the Midlands.
The research is based on a survey developed by recruitment consultancy Robert Half, based on responses from 200 HR directors in the UK.
When maternity leave has ended, female managers are more likely to return to work than female staff-level workers. More than half of female managers return to work after maternity leave, compared with just 40% employees working at general staff level.
Almost three-quarters (71%) of HR directors say that they already have arrangements to provide this flexible hours, while a further 13% are planning to put them in place.
Other initiatives that companies have put in place 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%).
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, according to the research. Fathers are more likely to take the full allowance in London and the South East (37% each) than those in the Midlands or North (30% of both).
The main reason for new fathers not taking maximum parental allocation is ‘financial considerations’ (62%), followed by societal pressures (41%), excessive workload (34%) and perception in the workplace (25%). Financial considerations are less of an issue in London and the South East (49%) than in the South West and Wales (68%), Midlands (69%) and the North and Scotland (72%).