Parents coming towards the end of their parental leave after the birth, or adoption, of a child can often be at a crossroads in terms of whether they want to return to work, and in what capacity.
Research conducted by That Works For Me, an organisation with a view of keeping women in the workplace, found some interesting statistics. 848 working mothers from across the UK were surveyed about their experiences and what happened to their careers after they had children. The results were:
- 98% wanted to go back to work after they had children;
- 52% want to work four days or more;
- 24% go back to full-time work after having children;
- 79% of the above 24% left their roles due to not being able to return to a full-time role alongside having a baby; and
- 85% leave the full-time workforce within three years of having children.
While it is currently predominantly women who take a longer period of parental leave after having a child, men in same sex relationships or solo male parents who have a child are also entitled to the same amount of time off as the person giving birth (under the banner of adoption leave), while some parents choose to share parental leave between them.
It can be tough to return to work after having a child or children. The law goes some way to protecting returning parents, but a lot of issues and later problems could be solved via a robust and effective return to work process.
Returning parents have various reasons for returning to work – some may be actively looking for their next career move, some may want to be mentally stimulated and challenged or at this stage in their career they may be simply happy to do their job and nothing more in order to have the lifestyle they want with their family. Of course, this may change as they go through their working life.
The worst thing an employer can do is to make assumptions about a parent in terms of what they can do, what they want and what their ambitions are. Ask the question! You will get so much more from that person by being curious and asking the question.