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78% of women unsure about maternity leave policies

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Clearer information, guidance and advice about maternity leave must be made available for female staff members upon beginning a new contract.

That is according to a survey by OnePoll commissioned by QualitySolicitors, which found that 78 per cent of females  in shared offices do not even broach the subject of maternity leave with their company as they are not sure about their entitlements.

In addition, many women are cautious about asking their employer for time off during their pregnancy, as they are concerned about the long term implications it may have on their career.

A further 42 per cent of female employees are uneasy about their boss’s reaction should they have to inform them about a pregnancy and only half of those questioned in the survey are aware of their maternity rights.

For this reason, QualitySolicitors have written a set of guidelines aimed at both employers and employees clearly setting out the rights and responsibilities regarding maternity leave, as well as addressing the issue of paternity leave.

This is something that may please two-thirds of women interviewed for the survey, who said they would like for their employer to be more transparent about their maternity policy from the outset.

The guidelines also take into account the fears of women who are worried that their career may be hampered by pregnancy as a result of insecurity in the current job market.

Craig Holt, founder of QualitySolicitors, explained: “In today’s economic climate, women are understandably concerned about job security. Despite strong legal regulation to assist the employer and employee, a culture of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ has been allowed to develop.”

Around 70 per cent of mothers are in paid employment, according to Santander UK – a threefold increase on 60 years ago – so implementing policies and practices to account for this is key to any business that wants to retain a diverse workforce.