Managing Maternity have just run their second annual survey about maternity leave, and the results make interesting reading.
Women are taking more time off: the average is now 8.8 months, with longer leave reported in the private sector and larger organisations. In 39% of organisations, average maternity leave is between 10 and 12 months.
There is an indication that return to work rates are falling. The average return to work rate is 81.6%, compared to 84% in 2007. 50% of organisations say it is lower for second or subsequent children. If you’re a mum to two or more, this seems common sense. Childcare costs continue to rise, and it simply becomes uneconomic to work. Managing Maternity comment that this figue corresponds with the growth in the number of female entrepreneurs.
Flexible working is becoming more embedded but there appears to be a split between the perception among senior managers of the importance of flexible working and the experience of line managers around implementation. Half say it causes logistical problems, 35% believe it causes resentment among colleagues and one in ten believe it shows a lack of commitment.
The uptake of the new Keeping in Touch Days is at best sporadic, with more than a third (37%) of organisations saying that less than 10% of women have taken up this option since their introduction in 2007. You are allowed up to 10 days during your maternity leave to go back into the office to keep in touch. In spite of low uptake, 70% of organisations said they are effective in helping to enable a smooth return to work
And for dads, 38% of organisations reported an increase in fathers looking at and taking up flexible working options. 60% of organisations said they foresee a high level of interest by fathers in the possibility of taking Additional Paternity Leave.