What do working Mothers get?

Posted: Sunday June 26 2016

By: Abbie Coleman

What do working Mothers get?

By Kate Ball

I worked for an incredible corporate through both my pregnancies, as soon as we even thought about having a baby I was reading the company maternity policy, it was great. Pay and reward was good, length of leave was good – lets get pregnant.

Employers are under huge pressure with maternity provision, the state stipulates the standard length of maternity leave and minimum payment provision, but for employers wanting to attract the talent of 20-30 something women, maternity provision is now a lure.

My experience was good, I was nervous announcing my pregnancy, I didn’t want to be an inconvenience but my line manager acknowledged that as an employer you have to accept that women “of a certain age” are going to have babies, but what we bring to the work place in skills and experience is worthy trade.  This was good.

Health and safety assessments, reduced travel, opportunities to work from home, this corporate was well advised and supportive of pregnant women. Lucky me.

Employers are good or and frankly are led by the law to be good at looking after their pregnant work force, focusing on the well being of the woman throughout her pregnancy.

What about when you want to come back to work?  Negotiating hours, flexible working, part time etc is pretty standard stuff – and businesses are more attuned to these discussions. How about support for the working Mother?

A few years on and now running my own business we have been thinking about Post-return support for Mothers.

Frankly, for me post-baby, I found working tough; managing child care, meetings away from home, stressed late journeys home frantically calling ahead to make sure little ones are not in the car park waiting! Not to mention illness, and when you have 2 children they give bugs to each other, double the time off needed.

As the children get older, the school demands sports days, stay and plays, parents’ evenings, parental involvement…. And for Mums the pressure of wanting to be ‘‘involved’ in school life but fearing asking for another morning out to attend the latest school event is very real.

The major elephant in the room is the mental health pressure on women, who want to be brilliant at their job, brilliant parents and to keep their head above water.

If you open the pages of the company manual at your place of work, there are dedicated chapters to maternity, paternity, parental leave etc, but sometime less than a paragraph about supporting the working parents.

Talking amongst my peers here are some of the Mum led initiatives to support women in the workplace that are breaking the mold.

  • Hours banking for school events, when you can stay longer at work, banking the hours to spend time with children.
  • Discretionary Days, line-managers with the sign off power to sign off 3 days per annum for ‘family friendly’ events.
  • Mum Buddy’s – women supporting women, breaking the silence of mums feeling they can’t talk about challenges at home. Regular buddy time encouraged by employers.
  • Mum’s networking groups meeting at work, to pool resources, share experiences and support each other.
  • Lunchtime workshops for parents, hosted by the employer – Phonics, Baby/Child First Aid, Recipes for Children, Craft ideas for Children, Yoga & Relaxation.
  • Regular time in 1:1s with Line Manager to talk about family life – discuss challenges and find solutions. Not waiting for crisis point.

Many of these initiatives are low or zero cost, they engage parents and make the family life and work life cross over an acceptable dialogue.

When you are in work next week, find out what your employer is doing to support the working mum., and add your suggestions.

Gifted women have so much value to add to business, lets empower rather than laden with guilt.

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