According to the 2022 Parental Leave Study conducted by Fertility Family, one in five women delay having children because of work.

Also, it was found that half of all new mothers need flexible working hours after returning to work, compared to two in five fathers.

May 2022 marks Maternal Mental Health month and, with the rising cost of living, businesses need to reconsider their current maternity pay policy as inflation hits a 40-year record high of 9 percent, pushed upwards by energy and fuel costs.

“Those who feel supported by their employers, and are clear about what their entitlements are, will feel much more comfortable making plans to start a family. Employees who are unsure of their workplace’s policy can often feel disengaged and stressed, which may lead to them putting off plans to have children as they feel like they are not ready,” says Director of Employment law at Citation, Gill McAteer.

 

Maternity leave and pay

Mothers are struggling with balancing work and family life after giving birth, with almost a quarter (24%) believing paid maternity leave should last longer. Once they have returned to work, half of all mothers would like to see more flexible working hours – which would combat surging childcare costs.

Another issue facing women is the rate of maternity pay: a quarter (27%) of women believe it should be higher, compared to 15 percent of men wanting higher paternity pay.

The research also shows that just 11 percent of mothers are happy with their employer’s parental leave policy and attitude to supporting new parents.

What employees want

To move forward, companies must embrace new, employee-centric working models. Flexible working hours (45%) and remote working (45%) are the most popular ‘wants’ from employees (both male and female) hoping for improved parental leave policies as they return to work.

Companies must also make it financially viable for their employees to take parental leave. Nearly a quarter (22%) of all employees want their company to increase their rates of maternity/paternity pay.

“Parental leave policies should be clear on employee entitlements and be available to everyone, with the aim of creating a supportive working environment. For employers looking to enhance their policies, they may consider adopting a family-friendly approach, with flexible or hybrid working, which would be well received by many of those who have families or are planning to do so,” says Ms McAteer.

 

Lucinda Quigley, head of working parents at Talking Talent, says:

“The pandemic has led many people to re-examine their careers, futures and the way they want to work. Any companies not offering the right support and company culture could find their high-talent individuals eschew them in favour of more forward-thinking firms – which will be disastrous for long-term company success.

“Now is the time for bold and honest conversations. Businesses must be ready to listen and create real change, especially given that the pandemic has transformed people’s thinking about the companies they work for, whilst also shifting family priorities.”

Editor at HRreview

Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview. With a master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.