Almost three-quarters of mothers feel that taking maternity leave put their jobs in jeopardy and left them vulnerable to ambitious colleagues or redundancy, The Times reported yesterday.
This was one of the findings from a recent study among Netmums members to examine the challenges faced by working mothers or mothers-to-be.
One in three working women also said they felt they had been overlooked for a promotion because they were of child-bearing age.
As The Times rightly infers, “this and other studies show that although protected by law, mothers remain fearful during their child-bearing years, believing that they are first in line for redundancy and at the back of the queue when it comes to promotion and training opportunities”.
The study also found that two-thirds of women now earn less than they did before having a baby, while only 5 per cent earn more. Despite all this 73 per cent of women believe they are better employees as a result of having a baby, making them more focused and organised.
This is not the first research to show that having a baby is the one single factor which limits women’s career progression and thus their pay packet. The gender pay gap in the UK taking account of full and part-time work currently stands at 22 per cent, the sixth worst in the European Union. Part of the reason for this poor showing is that the gap between man and women’s earnings dramatically worsens once a woman has had a baby. According to research conducted by the TUC, there is little difference in men and women’s pay in their 20s, yet by the time they reach their 40s the gap between male and female hourly earnings is 15.3 per cent.
The study for Netmums was conducted by maternitycover.com, a specialist recruitment consultancy, and confirms many women’s experiences of having children and trying to keep a career going.