New Figures Show Stress Fractures Affecting Maternity Pay
This week the Telegraph reported that new studies show alarming statistics surrounding the subject of maternity pay. Unfortunately on the surface it seems as though nothing has changed yet when we dig deeper it soon becomes apparent that in this area we're returning to a bygone era.
The Problems for Employers
Viewing this from both sides of the fence it is easy to see why small businesses struggle when faced with a pregnant employee. As colleagues throw baby showers (now more popular in the UK than you might believe), employers give a forced grin and dread the day they leave.
All of a sudden it seems like money has been poured down the drain, as the mum to be must be replaced while being paid.
Replacements are difficult for employers as many jobseekers tend to avoid covering maternity leave unless they are really desperate. This is because the upheaval of tax, NI, starting a new job and the uncertainty of staying deter those committed to work. It can't be easy for the employee to fit into the social circle either as they are always seen as a gap filler until mum to be returns, meaning many don't wholly accept them into the work community.
Then there's the training to consider, mum to be may has been with the company at least two years (otherwise she wouldn't be able to claim maternity pay) yet this newbie has to be trained in a matter of days in order to offer the employer value for money. Expectations are high as the employer struggles to control costs and this is where the problems lie.
Add to the melting pot the uncertainty for the employer and the relief and it's easy to see why sweat beads appear on the boss's forehead at the mention of maternity leave.
Mums to be don't have to tell an employer if they plan to return until the day before they do. It's actually illegal for an employer to ask so planning ahead is impossible.
The House of Commons Analysis
It's not surprising then that the House of Commons library declare that out of 340,000 women who take maternity leave a staggering 14% find their jobs under threat. Many who plan to return part time are told quite simply they can't (consider the employer, making up the hours, find another employee that will work the hours the new mum can't?) some find their job has conveniently disappeared while they've been at home with the baby.
Others find returning to work difficult as for a full year they've had very little contact with staff and employers, which is ample time for rumours to circulate, new office alliances to be formed and their absence missed (or not).
Why Employ Mothers at All?
This doesn't mean that mothers or mums to be shouldn't be employed or allowed to enjoy maternity leave. Mothers have a determination that the childless don't. Many work twice as hard not only to prove themselves but to ensure a stable, secure upbringing for the little one. Some become set on winning promotions just so they can work without worrying about extortionate child care fees.
Many employers know this and favour mothers as employees however the costs and confusion surrounding maternity leave can force their hand. So what should new mothers do when finding themselves without a job to return to?
The Good News
It seems working from home is on the rise, more and more parents are finding that the flexibility of working online fulfils their needs while they raise their little ones. From copywriters like me, to admin assistants, designers and virtual Pas there are profitable jobs for everyone.
Extra cash can be earned simply by filling in surveys too as some pay £5 just for answering a couple of questions, while becoming a mummy blogger seems like a sensible route to take.
You could combine your love of your little one with your professional skills and see how you can sell your services online, from planning baby showers to writing lullabies, there's a huge demand for mums.
Of course if you have another child, no one pays freelancers maternity pay but would you have to take any time off at all?