Return-to-Work Mothers 'Need More Support'

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Mothers returning to work after maternity leave need greater help integrating back into working life, according to a helpline company.

Validium, which operates confidential telephone helplines on behalf of companies says it has experienced increased calls from mums returning to work after an absence of more than six months.

Validium says that the most common areas of concern mums experience are fear of change in the work place, separation anxiety, guilt, lack of confidence, low self-esteem and general stress.

“Any changes which benefit mums have got to be welcomed but, since the Government introduced extended leave from 13 weeks to six months (8 years ago), we’ve received a greater volume of calls from working mums. Equally, we’ve had employers seeking our help on what they should be doing to make it easier. It’s the length of absence which seems to be the sticking point,” said Anne Payne Director, Validium.

“Our advice is for companies to introduce a phased return to work. For example, make sure mums are sent company literature and updates on what’s going on at work when they are off. Invite them to return on a reduced working week, or reduced hours, for an agreed period and make sure they don’t simply have their work dumped back on their desk as soon as they return. When someone’s been off it’s usually a great relief to colleagues when they are back but when we’re all busy it’s very easy to just off-load the work, assuming that the person is up to speed with what’s going on.

“It’s simple procedures which need to be put into practice to ensure mums don’t feel overwhelmed when they come back to work”.

The recommendations come as companies digest government plans to extend paid maternity leave from six to nine months. Paid maternity leave is one element of a package of proposals for mothers currently under consideration by the Department for Trade and Industry.

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