Fawcett Society Guidance on Supporting New Mothers Returning to Work

by Hannah Webb

14 November 2023

The Fawcett Society has recently published guidance on supporting new mothers returning to work following maternity leave.

Some of their key findings are that:

  • 84% of mothers face difficulty returning to work after maternity leave.
  • 30% of mothers receive no support from their employer during this period, rising to 38% for those who took more than 13 weeks leave or earn less than £20,000.
  • 11% of mothers never return to the role they left and 19% of those who do return quickly consider leaving.
  • 16% of mothers have faced discrimination due to being a working mother, rising to 22% for single mothers.
  • Only 31% of mothers have access to flexible working.


They also set out the following recommendations:

  • Build a clear policy framework that is made known to the employee before parental leave begins. Policies should cover level of contact (and keep in touch days), return to work meetings, guidance on flexible working and the support available to them.
  • Use data to understand and improve your organisation, such as retention levels of new parents, uptake of paternity leave, pay per hour of part time versus full time employees, recruitment and promotion of women into senior positions and the number of people in senior roles with a flexible working arrangement.
  • Foster a positive and inclusive workplace culture that supports new parents.
  • Upskill your managers by providing them with training, so that they have the tools to support their employees. The guidance also recommends that discussions are logged and monitored by HR to ensure employees are given consistent support.
  • Embed flexible working options. This should include discussions with returning parents to find suitable solutions and considering short-term arrangements whilst they transition back to work.
  • Foster development opportunities and ensure that any training or networking events are held during core business hours.
  • Support parental leave by promoting, educating, and encouraging the uptake of parental leave.
  • Champion affordable childcare by advocating for changes to childcare provisions from the government, as well as educating management on the pressures of childcare and ways to alleviate this.


If you need assistance with your parental leave policies, please do get in touch with the Employment team at EMW.

The full guidance can be found here: Paths to Parenthood: Uplifting new mothers at work.


This article was written in assistance of Jasper Blacklock
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