Are women on maternity leave being overlooked by their employers?
New research, released this week by AVADO, has revealed that a quarter (24%) of women on maternity leave are not being offered the same training opportunities as their colleagues. This is having a negative knock-on effect by affecting their readiness to return to work once their maternity leave is over.
When new mums are on maternity leave, companies can offer them the option of up to 10 ‘Keeping in Touch’ (KIT) days, which can be used for a range of work-related activities – including training. However, AVADO’s research shows that just 1 in 10 women (16%) have been given the option to use their KIT days for training.
To put this research into context, an estimated half a million women are currently taking a break from their careers. From AVADO’s research, a fifth (20%) of these women feel overlooked by their employers, meaning that a huge swath of talent is feeling underappreciated. Some of the specific areas that women on maternity leave are looking to bolster their skills in include leadership and IT (16%), people management (15%) and communication skills (14%).
Not every woman wants to keep connected to the workforce and training during maternity leave, with the study revealing that a third (32%) would rather use their maternity to care for and bond with their child. However, it’s nevertheless important for women to be offered the choice, and it also makes sense for businesses to offer training if they want to retain and develop their best talent.
Amy Crawford, Managing Director of AVADO, responded to the study by saying “Maternity leave can be a delicate time for both employees and employers. While some women want to take time away from work to focus on their family, many also feel abandoned by their employer the minute they walk out the door.
“If businesses want to make sure they’re retaining the best talent, they need to make sure women feel valued while they’re away. One way is by offering new mothers training opportunities while they’re taking a career break. Women tell us this not only helps them to feel more prepared to return to the workforce when they’re ready, but also means businesses benefit from new skills.”