There has been a lot of debate in newspapers in the last few months about the effect that going on maternity leave has on women’s career if it is beneficial for women to take maternity leave and how long they should take off.
When I found out I was pregnant I made the decision to take 12 months’ maternity leave from work as I felt that I would like to have as much time off with my baby as possible.
I have been reading a few newspaper articles online and a lot of them seem to give the opinion that going on maternity leave affects your career aspirations and chances of getting a pay rise.
“New mothers may struggle to get back into the workforce, earn less and be passed over for promotion in what has been described as a ‘motherhood penalty” [Daily Mail]
I found an article two weeks ago from the Daily Mail where a well-known top female lawyer advised women not to take a long Maternity leave as it risks your job.
“A top female lawyer known for championing women in the workplace has warned that new mothers risk losing their jobs by taking long maternity breaks.”
Is this really true? Am I risking my job by going on Maternity leave for 12 months? This has really got me worried because I find myself thinking what will I do if I go back and my role has completely changed or I have been demoted. Will I be able to work the same way I did and do they still expect the same level of work from me or will they think that I cannot work as hard because I have had a year off?
This lawyer in the article then goes on to explain that the maximum time that should be taken for Maternity leave should be 12 weeks. I don’t think I could have gone back to work after 12 weeks and left my baby with a nanny which is what she advises mothers to do.
“when a baby is born it needs to be fed, bathed and diapered.
‘An 18-year-old girl can do that. Your job is to get the money to pay the 18-year-old girl. When you have to be there is when the child gets smarter than the nanny.”
As much as I disagree with her advice I find myself sadly being able to understand the point she is making because I have heard of many stories when mothers go back to work after Maternity leave their role has been completely changed or they have been demoted or even pushed out of their job.
“Every year, 54,000 pregnant women and new mothers lose their jobs because of unfair and unlawful treatment by their employer. Laws are in place to protect women from pregnancy and maternity discrimination but a worrying number of employers are not complying with their legal obligations”
I have to confess that when I decided to go on Maternity leave I did feel like I was making a choice between my career and wanting to be a mother and in the back of my head I know that when I do return to work my role will no longer be the same, I know that some of my responsibilities may be taken away.
It is sad that in this day and age we still have to choose between having a career or a family why can’t we have both? Why do we have to sacrifice one in order to succeed in the other one?
Some employers would rather promote someone without a child because they feel that person is more loyal and more productive. A friend of mine told me that once she had advised her manager that she was pregnant her manager started treating her differently and that once she came back from Maternity leave her role had been given to someone else because she asked to cut her hours down and work part time so she could spend more time with her child.
She told me that before she went on Maternity leave she was at a senior level and had a lot of responsibilities but these were all taken away after her return and it made her feel like she was starting all over again. She also told me that she was always made to feel guilty if she had to take a day off because of her child was ill and she could not find anyone to look after her.
In the last few days I have been thinking about what I will do after my maternity leave will I go back to work or decide to stay at home if we can financially afford to. Or maybe I should look for a new job because honestly, I don’t think that my role will be the same if I decide to go back to work.
I just don’t understand why employers feel it is ok to treat women that come back from maternity leave differently, even though there are laws protecting us against certain discrimination.
What is wrong with a mother wanting to take as much time off work as she wants to so that she can bond with her baby and give them the best start to life.
I couldn’t go back to work at this point even though my baby is six months old I still feel that he needs me to be with him and I want to be at home looking after him.
Having a baby and taking a year off has not in any way affected how I work and how I do my job and I wish that employers would realise this and not punish women for taking maternity leave.
Thank you for reading