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Fawcett Society publishes employer’s guide on supporting new mothers at work

The Fawcett Society has published an employer’s guide to supporting new mothers at work.

It found that, owing to childcare pressures, 11% of working mothers resign, 41% decline a promotion, and only 31% have access to flexible working.

The recommendations for employers include:

Build a clear policy framework

This should be shared with managers and employees to facilitate productive conversations before family leave begins. Such conversations should include:

  • agreeing on contact while on leave

  • scheduling keeping-in-touch days

  • booking a return to a work meeting

  • providing guidance on flexible working

  • highlighting the support available.

Use data

This enables you to track retention, training, promotion and pay of employees after family leave and set targets for improvement.

Foster a positive and inclusive culture

Educate staff to build a culture that understands the challenges faced by parents, values their contributions and avoids assumptions.

Upskill managers

Consider compulsory management training focused on supporting returning parents and log management discussions with staff so that consistency of support can be monitored.

Embed flexible work options

Have open conversations with returning parents to find working patterns suitable for both parties, communicate any core requirements and document what is agreed upon. Consider short-term flexible working while a returning parent transitions back into work. Avoid using 'business needs' to reject flexible working requests, instead provide evidence and explore alternative arrangements when requests are challenging to accommodate.

Foster development opportunities

Don't assume the ambitions of new parents. Schedule training and networking events during core business hours and build time for part-time staff to take part.

Support paternity and parental leave

Promote, educate and encourage uptake of paternity and parental leave.

Champion affordable childcare

Educate managers about the pressure brought by childcare and how it can be alleviated, such as scheduling meetings within school hours or being flexible about the days employees are required in the office.

The report also calls on the government to require employers to advertise the flexible work options available to applicants, pay maternity and paternity leave at an affordable rate, and provide at least six weeks of parental leave exclusively for fathers and non-birthing partners.

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