Understanding why women decide not to return to work

A UK study and report conducted by an executive search agency and employment law firm in April 2007 revealed that organisations continue to struggle to retain top female talent despite 39 weeks statutory maternity pay, additional maternity leave benefits and extended worker’s rights in applying for flexible working arrangements, (introduced under the UK’s Work and Families Act.) organisations continue to struggle to retain top female talent.  It seems that employers need to do more than just comply with regulatory requirements to entice women on maternity leave back to work.
 
These findings send and important message to organisations that to simply offer paid parental leave will not be enough to secure mums and dads to return to work following parental leave; a real concern for businesses already suffering from general labour shortages.  

What must organisations do to attract parents back to work and keep them?
 The 2007 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Community (HREOC) report on work life balance suggests that ‘flexibility in the workplace’ is the fundamental component in enabling workers to meet the ever increasing demands of work and family life.
 
Where should employers focus their efforts to best support the needs of their employees, without compromising business productivity?  
Rather than trying to guess what improvements need to be made, mums@work suggest that employers go direct to the source. Ask mums and dads what assistance is most beneficial to them first and implement flexible work and parental leave policies after.
 
Mums@work Director, Emma Walsh states that “company’s can fail to implement feasible flexible work solutions, and risk losing its parental workforce unless they have a deeper understanding of the common issues working parents actually face, not only when they return to their job but on an ongoing basis as they juggle the demands of work and raising a family”.
 
For organisations to understand the needs of its working parents, employers must be prepared to openly discuss and negotiate practical return to work options that can are realistic for both parties.  
 
This is not always easy given we live and work in an ever changing environment; what might be agreeable today, won’t be suitable tomorrow. Organisations are constantly evolving to adapt to the diversifying needs of their consumers and clients.  Walsh suggests that “employers need to recognise and respond to its employees as clients and work together to continually find agreeable working solutions, otherwise they risk losing irreplaceable, valuable talent”.  
 
As parents struggle to meet the rising costs of child care, hold down two jobs (the one at work and at home) organisations need to be prepared not only to offer paid incentives to return to work but also proactively assist employees in developing a practical return to work plan.

Case study: Allen & Overy www.allenovery.com

UK Law firm Allen & Overy introduced maternity leave coaching just over a year ago on a three-part basis: prior to going on leave, during leave, and before coming back. According to HR officer Jane Masey, the boost to women's self-confidence has been obvious. Senior staff are eligible for three 1 or 2 hour, one-on-one sessions with their all female coaches. The firm also offers emergency childcare via a crèche close to the office, emergency leave, childcare vouchers, parenting seminars for both sexes and in-house diversity events that Masey says "help keep the issue of diversity front of mind".  Source Durler Consulting
 

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Designed specifically to support:
expectant parents
employees on parental leave
working parents

 
  Simple and convenient business case Toolkit for managers and employees to openly plan, negotiate and implement a flexible work arrangement.