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Businesses worried about extension to parental leave

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Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are concerned over government plans to extend parental leave, according to new research.

The report by Citrix Online, which surveyed almost 300 SMBs and 1,800 working parents, found that 58% of SMBs believed that extending maternity leave would have a negative commercial impact on their business, while 48% said the same for paternity leave.

However, the findings also revealed that 74% of businesses have implemented flexible working options, while almost half welcomed the government’s plans to extend flexible working to parents of older children.

Denise Tyler, founder of Mother@Work, said: “Working parents worry about the affect that having children will have on their career aspirations, so it is promising to see that businesses are recognising the benefits of flexible working and introducing options that will really help employees.”

For the working parents surveyed, mothers ranked ‘working away from the office’ as the most important benefit (54%), followed by a pension (44%) and an annual bonus or health insurance (both 36%). For fathers, 87% reported that saving time by not commuting was the most important aspect to flexible working.

Yet, when asked about the plans to extend parental leave, 46% of fathers and 44% of mothers felt that taking extended leave would harm their careers.

Bernardo de Albergaria, vice president and general manager, Global Marketing and eCommerce, at Citrix Online, added: “UK SMBs are actively exploring ways to enhance employee satisfaction and retention by enabling web commuting. This way, companies can minimise disruption to their business while allowing parents the flexibility to achieve a rewarding home life as well as momentum in their career.”

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