Before I became a parent myself it was hard to understand some of the reasons why women don’t return to work after having children. On a few occasions I was told by some of the large corporates that they struggle to retain women in the workplace after they have had their second child. (These are tech companies btw) They were flummox about why this would be the case.
Many of these companies have been offering flexible working, working from home, childcare vouchers, on site childcare and return to work support but still can’t manage to get their female staff to return.
Now that I am on the other side as a female with two children currently on maternity leave caring for them both I can see why this happens. With one child you can put the child into nursery which is on average around £40 – 50 per day per child and this is just about affordable. Childcare vouchers help with the cost and reduce it a bit but only if you qualify for them. The types of company we are talking about pay their staff well and as such these vouchers really don’t do much good at helping with this cost.
When you add a second child to the mix the cost of childcare doubles and therefore the take home pay decreases dramatically so despite many women’s desire to return it just isn’t a financially viable option unless family are able to help with caring for the children at least some of the time. With families more spread out due to people moving to where they can find work this tends to only happen in the minority of cases, the majority of parents therefore rely on nurseries, nannies or childminders in order to work.
Once you get to more than one child the cost vs the reward of looking after your children weighed up against going back to work and what your take home pay would be really doesn’t stack up. Instead women like me who were working in the tech industry choose to find ways to make money without putting their children into childcare full time. We start our own businesses, fit work around our family and enjoy seeing our children grown and take part in shaping them into the young people they will become.
If companies paid more to women returners to counter the additional childcare costs then they might just find that they manage to get a few more women back in their companies rather than losing valuable talent. Instead women looking to return to work find that there are more barriers than they expect. Often companies automatically assume you aren’t going to return so they work with the expectation that they will have to re-fill that position. Some companies struggle to keep in touch with their staff whilst on maternity leave which makes the person on leave feel isolated and no longer valued. This also adds stress into the mix and anxiety when the returner is looking to come back.
I hope that this article helps give a little insight into the mind of a mum that will return to work but on her own terms. Working around my children and enjoying them whilst they are young. Nurturing them and enjoying them discover and explore the big wide world. As a mum and a girl geek I look forward to teaching them all about technology but for now, walking, talking and exploring are the top of my agenda.
8 thoughts on “Why Women Don’t Return After Maternity Leave”
Oh so very true. Often there’s a lack of communication – the manager doesn’t get in touch so as not to bother the mum, the mum assumes they’ve not got in touch because they don’t care … great post.
Thanks. It’s such a shame because there is an opportunity there to bring them back.
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I’m in this very position at the moment. Cost of chilcare, travelling to work and all other expenses- just isn’t feasible for me. It goes against the grain of my character not to work but my little boy comes first. Really good post highlighting the struggles of mums who want to work but can’t.
I feel for you as it is really hard wanting to work but not being able to because of childcare and travel costs. It can feel a bit like you lose your identity and friends as you don’t end up in the same social circles as you do when you are working. You also don’t really have the same things to talk about either. I have found that writing on my blog and doing a little freelance work around the children is giving me a really nice outlet and a way to balance things. I’ve also started to get back into road biking so that I have some me time and have set myself a challenge to do London to Brighton for charity in September so that I have a goal. I hope you find a way to still be you as well as being a mum to your little boy. Just remember to take some you time every now and again. x
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Thanks Sarah this was a really thoughtful reply. And I’ll definitely take your advice and make sure ‘me’ time is on the cards. Goodluck for September that’s a mammoth journey but I’m sure you’ll conquer it. I’m a techy too so loving your blog 🙂 looking forward to your future posts x
Thank you. I’ll keep on posting geeky and girly things. 🙂
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It is interesting insights, but i dont see any insight from perspective of the company and team members.
How is it fair that members of the team will earn less just because they dont have babies?
Why mums cannot acknowledge the fact that companies don’t have money tree – when women is leaving the still have to earn money. their clients do not pay them more just because their member of the team have baby! So WHY company is the only one who should take full responsibility for family of the employee?
I dont believe that this problem can be solved if women will not understand how company perspective.