Maternity leave: Expert tips for retaining your staff

Written by Beth Gault Thursday 12 January 2023
Fewer than one in five new mothers return to full-time work in the first three years after maternity leave, according to a 2019 study*. This CMI member is pioneering ways to make work more welcoming
A businesswoman holding a baby bottle and a notebook

New mothers can leave the workplace for a number of reasons. These include childcare costs, the idea of leaving your child with someone else, the lack of flexibility in a job, or confidence. 

Mental health can also play a huge factor. Around 25% of mothers and 10% of fathers experience some form of psychological distress, either antenatally, or in the 12 months after they have a baby.

Francesca Prior CMgr FCMI is operational manager of the employment support team at Southampton City Council, where she works on a perinatal mental health project called PATH, focusing on the period during pregnancy and up to a year after giving birth. Francesca did some research with colleagues at the Institute of Health Visiting into this topic in order to educate and help employers encourage parents back into work after leave.

Her work involved interviewing parents who have experienced perinatal mental health struggles and then making various recommendations on how employers could support them better. 

“There’s a huge amount of guilt and feeling of failure for a lot of parents coming out of maternity leave, and employers aren’t always very understanding,” says Francesca. 

So, how can employers and managers encourage people back into work after maternity leave?

Get Francesca’s detailed, first-hand insights about return-to-work success


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