Based on a survey of 200 HR directors in the UK, recruiter Robert Half said 83% of female employees going back to work after having a baby work flexibly or part-time. This rises to 92% of employees in London and the South East, but falls to 70% in the North and Scotland and 78% in the Midlands.
Almost three quarters of the HR directors questioned (71%) said they have already created flexible working arrangements to retain new mothers, with a further 13% planning to put them in place. Initiatives include part-time or job share opportunities (58%), childcare vouchers (32%), on-site childcare (18%), telecommuting (17%) and family health and dental plans (16%).
Managers are also more likely to return to work than other team members, with 51% of HR directors saying more than half of their female managers come back to work. Only 40% said more than half of their other workers returned to work after having a child.
Despite this, it seems childcare is still a women’s issue, with 66% of new fathers failing to take their full paternity leave. Fathers in London and the South East were more likely to take the full allowance than those in the North and Midlands, but the figures are still low: 37% and 30% respectively.
The main reason given for new fathers cutting short their parental leave is financial considerations (62%), followed by societal pressures (41%), excessive workload (34%) and perception in the workplace (25%). Financial considerations are less of an issue in London and the South East (49%) than in the South West and Wales (68%), Midlands (69%) and the North and Scotland (72%), while perception in the workplace was cited by a higher proportion of respondents than average by HR directors in the North and Scotland (31%).
Estelle James, director of Robert Half UK, said: “It bodes well for businesses that such a high proportion of new mums now want to return to work, particularly those in a management role. 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. Hopefully this will support women in business as we look to get more female representation in executive and board-level roles.”
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