15% have access to a return-to-work programme at their organisation


More than one in 10 (15%) of respondents state that their organisation currently has a return-to-work programme in place, according to research by Hays.

Its Hays UK gender diversity report 2017, which surveyed 5,400 UK respondents, also found that 70% of respondents believe that there would be greater gender equality if more return-to-work programmes, or similar initiatives, were introduced.

The research also found:

  • 32% of respondents feel that men who take shared parental leave may be seen as being less committed to their careers.
  • 31% of female respondents take on a part-time role when they return to work after starting a family, 28% of women remain in the same position at the same hours, 15% resign to look for more flexible work, and 6% decide to become self-employed.
  • 24% of male respondents are likely to be promoted after having children, compared to 10% of female respondents.
  • 79% of respondents who are fathers either retained their current role or moved in to a more senior position when returning from a career break after having children. This compares to 38% of female respondents who either stay in their current role or progress their careers after having children.
  • 76% of female respondents believe choosing to work flexibly will limit their career, compared to 65% of male respondents who think this.

Yvonne Smyth (pictured), head of diversity at Hays UK and Ireland, said: “Our report highlights that [while] parents have the freedom to choose how they want to progress their career after starting a family, the majority of women who do choose to continue their career are less likely to be promoted or continue at the same level.

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“For those returning to work after a career break, employers should look to improve the transition process so they feel they have the opportunities to progress their careers, should they wish to. For example, our report found the majority agree that structured return-to-work programmes will help towards bridging the gender gap, and encourage more people back into work.

“Encouraging equality when returning to work can start before parental leave begins by improving communication to make it more culturally acceptable for parents to split their leave, or take flexible working upon return, thereby helping both men and women.”