Over recent years there has been a great emphasis on family friendly policies and an extension of the rights of women related to maternity leave. Notwithstanding this women are still faced with some horrifying prospects.
While women have a right to return to their previous employment and rights to make an application for flexible working the employer does not have to grant the flexible working requested and in practice women are finding that they face a reduction in salary of £9,500 per annum approximately. The report which produced this figure was issued by the Association of Accounting Technicians and found that some of the women polled were £20,000 out of pocket.
Some of the pay cuts were related to mothers having to take jobs which were “a little menial and very different from the career I had before being a mum”.
Only 6% of working mums aged 18-35 indicated they returned to a more senior position following maternity leave.
Another horror for working women is the cost of nursery care with the hourly rate for a child aged under two increasing by 5.8% and for a child 2 and over the increase has been 3.9%.
In addition to these horrors it is very common in our experience for women that fall pregnant to be approached before during or upon return from maternity leave with indications that their role is potentially redundant, and that there is no suitable alternative. A female employee may well find it very difficult to deal with the cost of any litigation so in practice they may well be bought off by a compromise agreement.
It is important for all employers to review their employment policies in relation to working parents, ensuring that they treat all parental leave fairly, and are open to advancement for parents upon their return to work.