Approximately 900,000 new parents have taken either maternity, paternity or shared parental leave in the past year. Yet, research shows that less than a fifth of new mums felt happy and confident about returning to work; it’s understandable why new parents taking a break from the workplace, or working part time in order to care for others is a key driver of the gender pay gap (GPG) which recently fell to a record low of 8.6% according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
If you’ve taken more than 26 weeks maternity leave or you’ve taken a career break it can be intimidating to go back to work. It can often feel like no one talks about it or explains how hard the process can be. We’ve decided to break free from that mums the word mentality – here are some things for you to consider before making the leap back into employment.
Is your CV up to date?
Having a strong CV is something all candidates looking for work will need. The struggle that many mums returning to work face is not knowing what to put in on their CVs during their career break. Many mums overlook the skills and experience they have gained as a parent. A great CV should include:
- Your contact information
- Qualifications and skills summary
- Education and training
- Experiences and skill clusters (such as retail, hospitality, customer service, computer skills etc.)
- Employment history/volunteer experience.
However, it should also show your personality which can be done with a brief personal statement, and a striking cover letter.
You’ll need training and support
Research shows that 73% of returners were more engaged prior to their work break and 47% performed better before their maternity leave due to feeling less supported upon returning to work. Therefore, it’s crucial for employers to encourage a smooth transition back into work, but also vital for you to work for a company with your best interests at heart.
Disparities in the office relating to returning to work and training for returners is nothing new. A colossal 84% of returners required training in new systems and products upon returning to work, yet only a minuscule 27% received training in new systems. Leaving 57% of returners to adapt to changes in the workplace by themselves. Furthermore, only 16% of mums received any other form of training according to FE News.
In order to promote career development and a stable work-life balance you should always enquire about:
- Training – evaluate your current situation at work, where you see yourself in the future, and all the steps you need to take to get there. These steps would usually involve training, focus on what your main priorities are, what skills you’ll need for your current role, and how these align with your long-term objectives.
- Adjustment period – 61% of mums said part-time working, flexible hours and gradual return were the most effective support methods. Despite this only 27% of mums were offered the opportunity to gradually return to work. If you believe a gradual return would be beneficial to your readjustment into the workplace discuss it with your manager and HR team – remember your employment contract is supposed to be beneficial for you too, not just your employer.
- Work Schedule – Research shows that flexible working hours were suggested to 54% of returners, whereas 70% were offered part time work according to FE. These stats alone show that there is room for flexibility in your work schedule should you need is – don’t shy away from demanding more flexibility.
- Well-being support – The HR team within your organisation should be able to offer you inhouse or external support that would be free of charge. If the support you need is more specialised your organisation should be able to point you in the right direction.
Making your requests heard
The most impactful way of getting your demands heard and officially recognised is to arrange a meeting to discuss your requests. This meeting should be with the HR team but also your manager. You should also put your requests in writing to hand in to the attendees. Your organisation should give you a decision within 3 months to give you their answer in writing, including their reasons if they refuse. You can appeal if they don’t follow the process or give acceptable reasons.
Take it a day at a time
However scary it may seem to return to work, it’s vital to remember that you’ve already conquered parenthood which comes with its own set of challenges. The workplace is yet another challenge that can be conquered with the correct steps by utilising everything that you’ve learned. Remember, new realities are grounded by resilience and adversity.<<< BACK TO BLOG