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Work employment

Maternity leave – how is it spent?

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Research has revealed the top things that pregnant women plan to do during their maternity leave, with 15% stating that they plan to start their own business and become a ‘mumpreneur’. According to the poll, a third of new mums go back to work earlier than they are required to, with the majority citing ‘financial reasons’ behind their decision to return early.
The days of maternity leave being used to rest and relax, have tea breaks and bond with other new mums are long gone, according to new research that has found British women have far more ambitious plans to keep busy during their leave. Taking up a new hobbies, setting up businesses and learning a new language are among the top things that expectant mums plan to do while away from work.

The team at www.VoucherCodesPro.co.uk conducted the research as part of an ongoing study into the financial situations that Britons find themselves in. 2,319
British women aged 18 and over, all of whom stated that they had given birth in the past five years, were quizzed about their maternity leave and how they spent their time.

Initially all respondents were asked ‘How did you plan to spend your maternity leave?’ to which the most common responses were ‘taking up a new hobby’ (18%), ‘setting up a business’ (15%), ‘learning a new language’ (12%) and ‘travelling’ (9%). All respondents were then asked if they had spent their leave doing what they had planned to do, with the results revealing that half of those who wanted to set up a business did indeed become ‘mumpreneurs’ (50%) and 41% of those who wanted to learn a new language realised their dreams, though just 11% of pregnant women who planned to travel ended up venturing abroad.

All respondents were then asked ‘Did you return to work before your full maternity entitlement was up?’ to which 55% of respondents stated that they used their full entitlement, whilst the remaining respondents either made the decision to return to work early (33%) or chose not to return to work at all (11%).

Those who returned to work early, without using their full maternity entitlement, were asked to share the reasons why they had done so. When provided with a list of possible reasons and told to select all
that applied, the top five responses were as follows:

1. Financial reasons – 81%
2. Needed more adult company in the day – 70%
3. Worried about long-term job security – 52%
4. My child was in day-care, and it gave me something to do – 46%
5. I felt the company needed me back – 39%

All respondents who had returned to work were then asked ‘Did your return to work go as you had planned?’ to which 74% admitted that it hadn’t. When asked to elaborate, 44% of those who planned to return to work full-time ended up returning part-time, compared to 13% who planned to return to work
part-time and ended up working full-time.

George Charles, spokesperson for www.VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, made the following comments: “It’s fantastic to see that so many women are using their maternity leave to do something positive. Obviously they’re already doing something incredible, by raising a child, but it’s important that they take the time to do something for themselves at the same time. Taking up a hobby, meeting new people and studying something new, these are great ways to pass the time, keep occupied and also get your child engaging with others too. They’ll also leave you in a better position when it comes to returning to the working world – assuming that’s something you wish to do.”

Will flexible working help to close the gender pay gap?

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by Emma Cleary
Ten2Two Sussex

Part-time work often has a gender pay gap that’s twice as big as the full-time pay gap, because it’s not as well paid and it’s mainly women doing it.

Yet are we happy as a nation to let the gender pay gap be explained away by the fact that men are largely leading our businesses and driving thought leadership rather than women? Simply because of what is being termed a ‘motherhood penalty’? It’s all too easy to view the gender pay gap this way – but there’s more to it than that.

A lack of promotion hits part-time working mothers
Lack of women in senior roles is one reason the gender pay gap is present, although many organisations are working hard to alter this.

It’s actually amazing what can be achieved in a 30-hour week. And if you take into account how productive part-time workers actually are – after all, they are always working to a deadline to get their work done in their hours – this may not present much less output than a full-time worker’s hours.

Yes, it’s true that senior part-time people may not want greater responsibility if they are already stretched to capacity with other commitments to fulfil elsewhere. But bosses must be careful not to assume this is always the case and be under-standing of employee’s needs.

For example, if employers are expecting workers to shoe horn a full-time working week into part-time hours, this will only lead to burn out and ultimately, the employee will end up leaving.

Attitudes to part-time workers simply not acceptable
We have heard of cases where employers have said to their part-time workers, “If you don’t like it, you know what you can do.” This is simply unacceptable.

Part of attitudes like this feed into the old-fashioned thinking that presenteeism is more productive than part-time or absent remote workers. This has to change if any movement in gender equality at work is to really be achieved.

As a flexible recruiter, we work with countless forward-thinking businesses who don’t take this view – and they see the benefits of flexible working really pay off in the long term.

Returnships – often one sided
Dare we say it, returnships can feel rather one-sided in favour of the employer and, in reality, don’t solve the problems of the gender pay gap. For us, most returnships don’t address what it is that women really need in the workplace.

Returner roles are generally full-time but often the issue is that women simply can’t work full working weeks when they still have to carry the majority of the childcare burden. Not to mention caring for older parents and requiring flexibility to manage health issues as they get older. Ten2Two’s recent research suggested women shoulder 63% of childcare responsibilities.

Time to address ageism – not just children
Ageism is the next big barrier that needs to be talked about.

We’ve seen Women’s Hour addressing the menopause and work in 2018 – a big step that has until now been swept under the carpet. Fact is, until we bring issues like this into the open, we won’t see real change in the way women rise through the ranks at work.

Deborah O’Sullivan, Managing Director at Ten2Two, says, “We believe that flexible working can play a big role in closing the gender pay gap once and for all. As we’re increasingly seeing, senior roles can be done part-time, and yet there’s a widely held view that the more senior you become, the more hours you have to work. It’s simply not true.”

“We know, the more senior you become, the more skilled you become at delegating and organising your time and resources and using your own skills in the best way possible, so there’s no reason senior positions can’t be part-time.”

If you’d like to hear more from Ten2Two Sussex on the subject of flexible working, please contact
Emma Cleary at emma@ten2two.org

Returning to work – after having a baby

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By Emma Cleary, ten2two

 

When you’re returning to work after a period of maternity leave, there’s a lot to think about. It’s likely you’ll need to find a fresh way to make your old job fit around your new circumstances. We look at how you can feel more in control of a return to the workplace.

 

Consider your childcare carefully
Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, you’ll need to find childcare for the hours you’re at work. But did you also know that many parents have to do this while their child is still in the womb? The waiting lists for nursery provision can be long, so the sooner you get this ball rolling, the better. Likewise, if you need to hire a nanny or au pair; the selection process can take time and it’s important to get this right so you avoid issues down the line.

Many people these days ask grandparents to help out. But have you thought about what you’ll do in case they have holidays or are unwell, for example? The same can be said for child§minders, although this type of childcare can be more flexible than nurseries, for example, if you are late or stuck in traffic.

The childcare you choose will also give you a good idea as to whether you’ll eventually be earning enough to cover these bills and the other associated costs of going out the front door every morning, such as transport costs and lunches. And if you’ll be working long hours, you may also need to think about getting a cleaner or other household support.

It’s also worth bearing in mind your rights to unpaid parental leave. You can have time off to look after your child’s welfare, for example, if your child has long-term healthcare requirements. Find out more about parental leave at www.gov.uk/parental-leave/overview

Make the most of keeping in touch days
Some parents we know have reported a crisis of confidence returning to work after having a baby. You may even start to question whether you can do the job any more or whether you’re so ‘out of the loop’ that you won’t keep up when you return to work. This is probably the sleep deprivation talking. Like riding a bike, you probably did your job very well before, so there’s no reason you won’t be able to do it again. If you think this might be you, you might like to consider keeping in touch days.

You can have up to ten keeping in touch days, which are optional and paid, without it affecting statutory maternity pay see www.gov.uk/employee-rights-when-on-leave for further details. It’s best to talk to your employer directly about this so they can make plans about how best to use your time. Some people go in to perform a normal day of duties, have a meeting with colleagues or additional training, so they’re not at a disadvantage when returning to work.

Going back to full-time hours
There are lots of ways to make returning to work after having a baby work. But if you’re worried you won’t make the nursery pick up time, you might want to approach your employer to discuss a change in working hours. You could ask for staggered hours, where you go in early and leave early, still completing the same hours as you did before. A popular choice is to work compressed hours, where you work your full-time hours in four days. Or you might ask for a day working from home to help you use your commuting time more effectively.

If you feel you need to work more flexibly still, you can ask your employer to drop your hours by a day or two and go part-time. Your employer doesn’t have to agree to this, and you will likely have to go to a meeting with the HR department (if your company has one) to discuss the reasons you feel you can better fulfil your position in this way. Find out more about requesting flexible working at www.acas.org.uk

What to do if work isn’t working
If your employer doesn’t appear to be supporting your return to work by agreeing to a change in working hours or if you feel you can’t make your existing job work once you’re a parent, it can be hard to take.

If an HR decision doesn’t go your way, you might begin to feel resentful towards your employer. Employees no longer have a right to appeal a flexible working request, but every company is different, so it’s worth checking what your work’s policy is on this. Find out more at www.gov.uk/flexible-working/appeals

If you find your employer isn’t going to accommodate your needs, all is not lost. A rise in flexible working has meant that many companies are more accommodating than they used to be. You might decide to look for another position elsewhere, which could be a good step for your career. Or you may consider offering your professional services on a contract or freelance basis.

At Ten2Two, we deal solely in flexible career jobs for professional working people. These vary from part-time roles to contracts for maternity cover or short-term projects, through to freelance and full-time flexible positions.
Contact emma@ten2two.org or 07810 541599
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