NCT research finds women are ending maternity leave sooner than they would like

Released on: 30 May 2014

Almost half of women (43%) are likely to return to work sooner than they would like after having their baby, according to a new NCT report. Of those, 47% said this is due to concerns over job security.

Some women are returning to work extremely quickly; overall 4% of those surveyed said they took less than two weeks maternity leave.

37% of women said they would not consider sharing parental leave with their partner. Of these, half (50%) said it was because they need the income generated by their partner’s pay.

Although over a third (36%) said that they felt it was their responsibility as a mother to stay at home and look after their children. 

Belinda Phipps NCT, CEO said: 

“This report shows women are returning to work earlier than they would like to because of money worries or fears about job security. It also suggests that if the government wants parents to make use of shared parental leave they will need to increase dads’ paternity pay. 

“It is high time we saw maternity and paternity pay raised – at least in line with the minimum wage – so that parents have greater choice about when to go back to work.”

Other key statistics

29% of women said they would be worried about job security if they took advantage of flexible working, and just 15% said they thought their job would be very secure

70% of women surveyed said they would prefer flexible working over more parental leave as a way to spend more time with their children, if they were to have a/another child

Yet 59% of women said they were unaware that were able to request flexible working from their employers

Women between 18 and 24 are more than twice as likely (7%) to take less than two weeks’ maternity leave than those aged 25 and over (3%) 

Younger women, aged 18-24, are the least likely to take more than 12 weeks of maternity leave – only 76%, compared to 85% of those aged 25 and over

The charity has put a template letter on its website for parents to request more flexible working hours from their employers. The letter (normal RRP £19.99) is free and sits alongside other useful information about work and childcare and maternity / paternity leave and pay.

About the survey:

Survation interviewed 2,112 men and women in the United Kingdom: 1095 new parents with children under five, and 1017  men and women under the age of 45 who do not currently have children under the age of five, from 14th - 24th April 2014, on behalf of the NCT. Survation is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. A copy of the report ‘Parental Leave Survey’ is available here