Tag: maternity leave

Businesses called on to look at maternity pay policies and working models

The 2022 Parental Leave Study, conducted by Fertility Family, has found that one in five women are delaying having children due to work. The new study also revealed that half of new mothers need flexible working hours compared to less than two in five fathers. The belief is that flexible working hours would combat the increasing cost of childcare.

The study demonstrated that mothers struggle to balance work and family life after maternity leave. Twenty-four percent agree that maternity leave should last longer. And

As inflation hits new highs of 6.2%, 27% of women believe that maternity pay should be higher. In comparison, 15% of men want higher paternity pay.

The survey of employees at 116 UK companies also found that only 11% of mothers are happy with the parental leave policies at their companies and their company’s support of new parents.

The study also revealed that 21% of women would appreciate longer paid paternity leave for fathers. Fifteen percent of men feel the same. When asked whether working from home was a policy that new parents would appreciate, 46% of men and 44% of women agreed that it would.

With flexible working hours (45%) and remote working (45%) being the most popular wishes from both males and females, companies are called on to embrace employee-focused working models and increased maternity and paternity pay rates.

Gill McAteer, Director of Employment Law at Citation, commented: “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.”

“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.”

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.”

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Live birth numbers decrease by 4.1%
The latest data released by the ONS on Birth characteristics in England and Wales: 2020 has reinforced the need for workplace fertility, pregnancy and early parenthood support for employees, and not just simply for those who fit into what is considered the nuclear family.

In 2020, the average age of mothers in England and Wales remained at 30.7 years, while the average age of fathers increased slightly to 33.7 years – both prime working ages; with 1,959 live births to same-sex couples recorded in 2020.

The data shows there were 613,936 live births in England and Wales in 2020, a decrease of 4.1% from 2019. Troubles with fertility do not affect everyone trying to conceive, but for those going through it, it seems that it is one of the last remaining workplace taboos – people simply don’t talk about it to their employer or their colleagues.

On top of this, becoming a parent often happens at the same time as careers are starting to flourish, which means it has a major impact on employers too.

Dr. Mridula Pore, CEO of Peppy said: “Trying for a baby and becoming a parent can be challenging times. When a member of staff tries for a baby or needs treatment to help them conceive, it can be all-consuming. They may need to take time off work for appointments and the stress and anxiety can lead to additional absences from a mental health point of view too.

“Once a baby is born, the stress isn’t over, with challenges such as feeding, sleeping and managing a new routine.

“This is a time when employees need a huge amount of support, and with the right support the experience can be much more positive, and also mitigate absence.”

Employers should be made aware of other data included in the ONS birth characteristics report that has been revealed and that is that the highest stillbirth rates remain in women aged 40 years and over at 5.5 stillbirths per 1,000 births in 2020, which is no change compared with 2019. Also, babies from black ethnic groups have the highest stillbirth rate at 6.3 per 1,000 births. However, this has decreased from 7.1 stillbirths per 1,000 births in 2019.

In 2020, 7.4% of live births were preterm births, a decrease from 7.8% in 2019. (A preterm birth is a birth that takes place before 37 weeks’ gestation.) These present incredibly stressful times for families who are often in very challenging careers and employers, along with HR functions, should consider offering more support to employees in situations such as these.

Dr. Mridula Pore continued: “After a miscarriage or stillbirth, many employees will find it hard to discuss what has happened and will benefit from support from someone with dedicated expertise in this area who understands what the individual or couple are experiencing emotionally, physically and practically.

“Whether employees are seeking treatment to help them conceive, have become parents, or have suffered the trauma of baby loss, support needs to be available as part of workplace diversity, equity and inclusion policies for everyone. We know that these issues don’t just affect young women in heterosexual relationships and although they are difficult subjects to address, those employers that are there when their staff are vulnerable and most at need, will be the employers of choice.”

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