Most female workers return to flexible roles after maternity leave

The majority (83%) of female employees in respondents’ organisations who return to work following maternity leave have moved into part-time or flexible-working roles, according to research by recruitment consultancy Robert Half.

Its research, which surveyed 200 UK HR directors, found that this rose to 92% of employees in London and the south east, but fell to 70% in the north of England and in Scotland, and 78% in the Midlands.

Almost three-quarters (71%) of respondents have a flexible-working policy in place, while 13% are planning to put these arrangements in place.

Other initiatives that respondents have put in place to help retain new mothers include part-time or job-share opportunities (58%), childcare vouchers (32%), onsite childcare (18%), telecommuting (17%), and family health and dental plans (16%). 

The research also found:

  • 66% of new fathers failed to take their maximum allocation of paternity leave.
  • Fathers were more likely to take the full allowance in London and the south east (37%), compared to those in the Midlands or north of England (30%). 
  • The main reason for new fathers not taking the maximum parental allocation was financial considerations (62%), followed by societal pressures (41%), excessive workload (34%) and perception in the workplace (25%). 
  • Financial considerations were less of an issue in London and the south east (49%) compared to the south west and Wales (68%), the Midlands (69%), and the north and Scotland (72%), while perception in the workplace was cited by a higher proportion of respondents by HR directors in the north and Scotland (31%).

Estelle James, director of Robert Half UK, said: “The majority of HR directors in our survey understand that female returners want to come back to work in a flexible, part-time or job-sharing capacity, so it’s good to see that they have already put measures in place to provide these opportunities, or plan to in the future.”