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Maternity returners to share experiences in national survey

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A national survey is being launched to find out what women returners really think of going back to work.

Pregnancy and childcare charity the NCT is behind the survey, which will capture women’s experiences on returning from maternity leave or adoption leave.

Around 400,000 women take maternity leave each year. A figure that is set to grow considering that women make up 46% of the labour force and, by 2010, one in five UK workers will be mothers. Within nine months, 65% of women have returned to work, with 21% moving to a different employer. After 17 months, 80% of women are back at work. In the UK, 30,000 leave their jobs each year due to pregnancy discrimination.

Liz Morris, researcher, said that the demands of caring for a child can be radically different to the demands of the workplace.

“Women often face realistic anxieties about juggling their new family and their work commitments. Research shows companies who adopt a positive and constructive approach to a woman’s return achieve a smooth transition and a happier and more productive outcome for all those concerned, including work colleagues who also have to re-adjust.”

The NCT will be drawing on the savings that can be made on recruitment of training and new staff. According to official figures, nationally, this equates to around a £13.2 million savings. By 2010, men could be legally entitled to share up to 26 weeks of parental leave. This will increase the number taking parental leave to 800,000 each year.

The news comes at a time when Working Families, the work-life balance charity, has been given funding by the government to spread the word on tax credits. According to the outfit, nine out of 10 families with children are entitled to tax credits. As part of its new outreach programme, Working Families can provide employees with on-site, face-to-face advice and information sessions for their staff. These advice sessions are free.

Lei Lau, a Working Families take-up campaign project officer, said: “In helping lower paid staff to boost their income through tax credits, employers will reduce employee stress, absence and turnover. And it doesn’t cost employers anything to help their employees to get this important benefit. There is no administration involved as this is taken care of by HM Revenue & Customs. It’s a win-win for employer and employee.”

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Annie Hayes

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