While we talk a lot about pregnancy, we don’t tend to focus in on maternity leave experience for mothers. Having a child is a huge milestone in your life. Any mother knows that the amount of complex decisions that need to be made around your pregnancy seem endless. It’s one of the most exhausting and uniquely fulfilling time in anyone’s life and affects everything around you. Beyond sleep schedules and baby proofing the house, a mother’s work life will also be affected. Maternity leave isn’t as simple as taking an extended vacation and then coming back to your job.
The length of a maternity leave means that many changes can have happened. It’s likely that some the employees at your company will have left and new people will have been hired. There will be new processes to follow and shifts in the market that your company is pivoting toward. At times, even going on vacation for two weeks can feel overwhelming. Now imagine being gone for a year!
The unfortunate reality is that new moms struggle when going back to work. Often, they are having to deal with an entirely new schedule and catch up on changes in the office simultaneously.
What is the Maternity Leave Experience Report?
A new report from Moms at Work, Canada’s largest community for working mothers, shows that Canadian women are lacking fundamental support from their employers during the maternity leave and return-to-work process.
The Maternity Leave Experience Report is the result of a 2021 survey of over a thousand women on their experiences. All of the women have taken maternity leave within the past decade. These moms were asked questions like how supported they felt by their employers and what level of job options were they given.
The results were striking and showed that 40% of the women surveyed considered quitting during their return-to-work process. There were many reasons given, but notable ones were poor communication. Beyond that, there was a lack of clarity about how their leave would be managed. Lastly, there was also was a lack of flexible work options or a way for women to have a gradual return to work that would help ease the transition.
What problems do new mothers face when they return to work?
The problems that people face when they return from maternity are varied from person to person. However, there are common threads that surfaced from the survey.
Of the more than thousand women surveyed:
- 95% of respondents did not receive any formal support during their maternity leave transition.
- 40% of women surveyed considered quitting during their return-to-work process.
- 79% of women surveyed were not provided with options for a gradual return to work.
- 33% of respondents reported they were discriminated against due to becoming, or being a mother in the workplace.
- Only 10% of women surveyed were provided with information about their rights and accommodations for breastfeeding and pumping.
How can the Maternity Leave Experience Report help my company?
There are basic steps that could be implemented without much effort on the behalf of companies. These basic steps would help to drastically alter these results. The first step, however, is understanding the pain points of mothers on maternity leave. Once an employer understands the challenges that their employees face, they can take steps to address these issues.
Taking these steps go beyond just creating a less hostile working environment for mothers. Making the maternity leave experience better can also help families as a whole. There is no downside to a company having set procedures to help new mothers get back to work.
The Maternity Leave Experience Report outlines the issues that new mothers in the workplace face. Also, how daunting it can be to return to work during one of the most vulnerable periods of a mother’s life. Download the free report and use it as a tool within your workplace to help enact change for all the mothers to be.
Maternity leave marks a significant transition in a woman’s career and deserves the attention and planning that employers provide to other professional leaves of absence. Correcting the issues outlined in this report carry huge economic benefits for both companies and women while helping companies to reach their targets on diversity, equity and inclusion.
What does a successful Return-to-Work program look like?
The main thing that a return-to-work program needs is to be comprehensive. You need to have HR professionals and managers who are informed about the challenges that working parents face. There is no one size fits all solution, but there are common issues that working parents face. Some, in fact, are fairly simple to fix.
Something as simple as a meeting room booked for breast milk pumping or an information packet which outlines the leave process for expectant parents can do a lot to ease the anxiety of coming back to work.
Isn’t Canada’s parental leave one of the best in the world?
While the time given is quite good for maternity leave, that doesn’t mean that employers are off the hook for helping to smooth the transition back to the office. What this transition consists of will likely look different from one employee to the next. As employers are starting to realize that work life balance and mental health are key factors in healthy employees, they need to take maternity leave into consideration as well.
The transition from being on maternity leave to an office environment is an experience that is unique to working parents and can be the root cause of anxiety and mental fatigue. In order to provide for the health of employees, companies need to go beyond just the monetary coverage, but also provide clear steps that parents can take to return to the office.
While there are many benefits that Canadian mothers have compared to those in other countries, there are still ways that we can make the process easier for everyone. Download the Maternity Leave Experience report now and see how you can help today.
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