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NOW CLOSED UK MNers: Please complete a short survey for MNHQ about returning to work after having children. £50 Amazon voucher to be won

(51 Posts)
KatieBMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 01-Nov-13 14:31:14

We'd like to know about MNers' experiences of returning to work after having children.

This survey is open to all UK Mumsnet users who:

~ are female
~ have at least one child AND
~ who worked in paid employment prior to having children AND
~ who returned to paid work (or who planned to return to paid work but were made redundant/ lost their job through no fault of their own) after having a child.

If you fit the bill, please complete the survey here.

Everyone who completes the survey and adds their details to the end will be entered into a prize draw for a £50 Amazon voucher.

Thanks and good luck,


Complicated slightly as some of the questions I was answering for my current employer and some for the one I was at when I had my mat leave. Doesn't really matter in my case as the employers are pretty much the same but I thought it could be confusing.

Done. Very depressing sad

Done. I am public sector and the onr bonus of public sector work was that I was pretty much able to dictate how and when I went back. So if my answers don't make sense when I say that managers were very supportive but I feel that having children holds you back I am referring more to a career as a part time worker.

nobutreally Fri 01-Nov-13 16:14:36

I'm guessing I don't really fit the quotas as - like many women I suspect - I chose not to return to my pre-kids workplace, but instead went self employed. Partly because I didn't think the employer would be genuinely family-friendly, partly because I knew my employer would constantly have 'what if she wants another baby/she isn't really commited any more' whenever they looked at me (small company, I had been a shareholding director prior to my pregnancy)

ForFawkesSakeNoGuyForSolo Fri 01-Nov-13 16:30:44

I don't think public sector is the same across the board fanof

Rosell Fri 01-Nov-13 16:33:39

I wish there'd been a section for general comments. In my experience (2x mat leaves from a large corporate employer), things depended entirely on the approach of the line manager. I had one amazingly positive experience where I was very strongly supported throughout, followed by an awful one that ended with me leaving the company. For me the conclusion is that all the policies and good intention in the world mean nothing if they're not evenly applied and, perhaps more importantly, monitored.

bsc Fri 01-Nov-13 16:41:22

public sector here too- outwardly v supportive, and had flexible working, days off (from my leave allowance) at v short notice etc, but was sidelined on return, and even removed from senior leadership team on return! shock

I'm sure it's not but I can only go on my own experience and I was lucky. I was just trying to explain my answers as I feel like being part time was the biggest hold back. I am lucky that work/life balance was a big deal for all staff members where I am, children or not. Things are however getting less flexible these days in line with severe cuts so not so sure I'd like to be returning now.

I agree that it's part-time working that really screws you over on return to work.

I was told that the job I ought to have been returning to couldn't be done part-time, and that utterly stalled my career development/progress at that firm ...

... but they gave it to two other full time people as an effective job share confused alongside other duties. So basically it was a big fat lie and I resigned within a year.

My company made flexible working available to all members of staff (regardless of whether they were parents of young children) - this meant that there was much less discrimination because everyone knew that they could ask for the same if they wanted it.

LoganMummy Fri 01-Nov-13 19:04:22

I worked for a very small company and was the first employee to become pregnant. My boss had no clue, despite me giving him all the info he needed (links to employer info etc). He tried to start my maternity pay when I was 15 weeks and off sick for one day. What really annoyed was that when I was pregnant I was the only employee (out of four) not to be given a pay rise or promotion.

aga69 Fri 01-Nov-13 20:18:18


Zombieminx Fri 01-Nov-13 21:07:16


Very depressing.

The thing that really bugs me is how hard it is to move jobs if you only want to work part time angry sad

Fishandjam Fri 01-Nov-13 21:12:55

Done - and I agree with all the comments on part-time working.

Fishandjam Fri 01-Nov-13 21:21:00

Damn, posted too soon: I work in the legal profession (in house, 3 days a week) and my employer is very family friendly. Good quality part time jobs (in fact ANY part time jobs) in the legal profession are rarer than rocking horse shit, and I know I'm lucky to have the role I do. But I still feel I'm becoming deskilled and that all the interesting/complex projects go to full time colleagues. For eg, I'm more PQE than one colleague, and with more "senior" past experience, but she's a Senior Legal Counsel while I'm only a Legal Counsel. Our grading is the same but it still makes a difference.

At present I'm really just keeping my hand in pending the kids going to school, but it's a bit depressing that that's my only choice if I want to be taken seriously.

NotCitrus Fri 01-Nov-13 21:27:25

Flexible working for all, parents or not, is key to removing resentment - and once a critical mass of staff are.doing it, management are forced to get to grips with it.

A rest room (ie with a camp bed) was vital for me when pregnant, and then on return I was gutted to find they'd got rid of it. Storage for spare clothes at work would be nice, for.those days when child gets gunge on your suit on the way to work.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 01-Nov-13 21:47:36

Done. Since returning from maternity I became the boss and put right the crap that happened to me.

jellyfl00d Fri 01-Nov-13 22:49:31

Survey done! I am public sector worker and I actually got promoted at 7 months pregnant and I reduced my hours on return from mat leave. I think I was very fortunate, as it seems it's not that way for lots of women. On the whole a supportive employer.

conflictedgeek Fri 01-Nov-13 22:52:38

Done. Thing is, my lot (private sector, small company) couldn't possibly have been more lovely while I was pregnant.

But when I returned, while they are lovely, they also seem to have mummy tracked me. So I feel a bit trapped, tbh - hard to switch jobs when part-time.

Davinaaddict Sat 02-Nov-13 00:14:31


DanglingChillis Sat 02-Nov-13 01:37:49

Done. I've been incredibly lucky work wise, my boss when pregnant with DD1 hardly spoke to me when I was pregnant and didn't even acknowledge I was about to have a baby on my last day before going on maternity leave. I returned to work pregnant and he immediately moved me to another department. He thought he was sidelining me, it's actually been the best thing that has happened to me. I now have a lovely boss in a growing department who has been fantastically supportive of my career and given me lots of opportunities, e.g. I'm just back after my third child and just been given a big project that will increase my experience in an area I don't know much about. He has been lovely about my pregnancies, even when three out of seven of his senior staff got pregnant at the same time he dealt with it with good natured humour (at least to our faces, there were crisis meetings about how the company would cope!).

I completely agree, it's going part time that completely stalled my career progression. Despite having a lovely supportive employer I'm now paddling like mad to try not to go backwards. The workplace is just not set up for part time and it takes SO much effort to find out what's going on, and what important conversations I've missed!

janey68 Sat 02-Nov-13 11:53:31

YY to the comments about requests for flexible working being open to all. Having children shouldn't trump every other perfectly legitimate reason for wanting to work part time. If someone can afford to work less than the standard week and its a job which is viable part time then fine. Having said that, it's also equally important that companies are allowed to use legitimate business reasons to decline requests.

Personally I found the key to my career progression was to work full time for 10 years, building up my career. Then returned 3 days a week and returned to full time work as soon as my youngest was in reception class. This worked out well for me, though I appreciate there is an element of luck in hours becoming available at a good time. I also too short maternity leaves (which was standard back then) but I also think this worked to my advantage in never feeling out of the loop. If I were having babies now I think I'd have a dilemma as I can see a year off work is tempting, but not sure it's best career wise

The most useful advice I'd give is spend a good few years career building prior to kids if possible because its always easiest to negotiate flex working etc from a position of being established. I am also very glad I never stopped working at all as I think this makes it very hard to get back into the market, though again, I appreciate its tough if you don't earn enough to cover childcare.

MegBusset Sat 02-Nov-13 12:00:54

Done, though there was no option to explain that my post-DC job is a different one to pre-DC (I was made redundant on mat leave and it was a non-family-friendly industry anyway).

GingerbreadMoomin Sat 02-Nov-13 13:32:05

Done. Really depressing to think about my job before and my job now. Although they matched my request for a job share and my job description hasn't been changed I'm no longer in the high profile area that I was before. Working part-time and being known as a 'mum' has definitely stalled career opportunities in the sector I work in

I was able to go back PT. The thing that I think will hold my career back is being not able to move between companies easily, which is one of the standard ways to progress in my profession. Jobs are rarely advertised as PT. I have been lucky enough to have moved once, by applying for a FT job but requesting to do it PT. But I doubt that I will be able to do it again and I don't want to risk moving to a FT job with the hope of reducing to PT again. Not to mention that employers may well not like the idea of employing someone with an "incomplete family" as we have 1 DC and might want more.

Happiestinwellybobs Sat 02-Nov-13 15:56:24

I didn't feel able to complete the questionnaire as an adoptive parent, but I would add that my experience was very positive. I honestly felt that I had the support of every employee during the run up to DD coming home, and since my return to work too.

Phineyj Sat 02-Nov-13 18:41:38

I have returned to work 'part time' which essentially means full time but my teaching hours (and therefore pay) are reduced. My employer has been thoroughly decent, although this may be related to the fact I saw an employment lawyer while pregnant and did exactly what he recommended. However, they have promoted me which is good as I understand some schools won't have part time workers in leadership positions - which seems unreasonable to me if the job can be done effectively. I must say I have heard and seen a lot of horror stories over the years and did my level best to take all the steps I could to avoid becoming one of them.

I agree flexible working should be a universal thing that could be requested by all, not just parents.

Suddengeekgirl Sat 02-Nov-13 18:58:30


Agree with PP - very depressing remembering how much I loved my job and felt supported. Management changed while I was on maternity leave (and repeatedly after that) and I felt more and more sidelined and like I was an inconvenience! sad

Meglet Sat 02-Nov-13 20:46:05


SuiGeneris Sat 02-Nov-13 22:25:05

Done but felt you should have offered more options. E.g. Asking whether one was selected for redundancy during mat leave or shortly after and whether it was felt that pregnancy had been a contributing factor. It is something that would be difficult to prove, but I and others have been through exactly that- sometimes more than once...

Done, but had to answer as though I was still working at the company I worked at before, between and after my MLs, although I left several years ago now and the company I work for now couldn't be more different (in a good way).

ForFawkesSakeNoGuyForSolo Sun 03-Nov-13 11:06:00

My now previous work place made it very difficult for anyone to get a work life balance arrangement put in place when I had my Ds. I actually got it due to my ill health along with being a lone parent, but when I returned after Dd (considerable gap), it was being used much more easily for more than just parenting, but work were phasing it out! so was nigh on impossible for anyone to get.

GreenShadow Sun 03-Nov-13 16:29:22

Also public sector and also found they were generally very good. But then when the department is so large, it is relatively easy to do. I quite appreciate the difficulties involved for very small employers.

muchadoaboutsomething Sun 03-Nov-13 17:51:04

I did this, but felt it a little simplistic. In my case it's not children per se which affects my career and career choices. It's the fact my chi,d has cerebral palsy. I actually have felt supported but believe the 8 months off I took when I had ds has taken about 3 years to replace. Also My colleagues didn't look after my business as I would have done, so it took a while to build it back up again. Again I don't think that's maternity leave it's the extra demands of disability, and difficulties with juggling the numerous but horribly irregular medical appointments with trying to commit back to my career.

principalitygirl Sun 03-Nov-13 20:51:59

in my experience women need better legislative protection against discrimination during pregnancy while still at work. women on maternity leave have much better protection against discrimination than pregnant women who have yet to start their maternity leave. it's pretty hard to find a job once you're pregnant so if you lose yours due to a crappy employer - household name who didn't practice what they preach - then you're pretty stuck until you've had your baby.

Wonderstuff Sun 03-Nov-13 21:31:43

Two things really, I agree with others about pt working, my DH is currently 4 days as well as me, and it's been far more difficult for him, his employers were shocked when he asked, and have only allowed it on a temporary basis, they are very worried about him setting a president.

I also think that it isn't just employers that stall a post children career, I didn't apply for promotion for a few years, I wanted to our career on hold, actually work have recently promoted me pt, partly because DH and other family members have been able to share emergency child care, so I'm as reliable, mostly because I have specialist training in a shortage area.

Ughughugh Sun 03-Nov-13 22:14:35

Done. I became a SAHM after my first 2 pregnancies because of the way I was treated at work for being pregnant.
Shame because I was a far better worker than most of my colleagues. I was the only woman in that workplace and really had to prove myself to try to be taken seriously, which sadly I wasn't.


My employer was brilliant when I was pregnant and on ML, but like others I feel my career had largely stalled due to part time working.

You miss out on a lot - I could be flexible regarding important events/training/meetings etc, but going part time stripped my job back to the very essentials, meaning for me that I missed out on networking opportunities as attending an external forum for example was just not important enough for the day job. I was pretty invisible in my sector for a few years which hampered my career development I think.

I also missed out on a good proportion of informal serendipitous 'corridor conversations' with colleagues which are so useful and often progress work much quicker than formal meetings.

WallyBantersJunkBox Mon 04-Nov-13 11:44:14

Done. And I agree with posters below - the mechanics of time off for appts, leaflets, leave dates etc was all fine.

I had to go back part time after 6 months and I missed out here massively. I then went on to 4 days a week at another company and was ruled out of a lot of possible promotions, even though I would come in for various training days and away days on my Friday off, and work at home too.

Also,even though I don't discuss my family life in work (unlike a lot if male colleagues, incidentally) people are always trying to do the thinking for me..."Oh Wally won't want to do that travel, she has a family etc" when in fact I have been more flexible than many single male counterparts on these arrangements I still seem to get tarred with a brush. I have never complained once about travel, and work far longer hours than most.

If I didn't have my DC i'd be a senior VP now without doubt. Shame really as I'm perfectly capable of being both.

StrangeGlue Mon 04-Nov-13 13:30:44

It'd have been good to have a comments section.

A frustration of mine was when I went on mat leave I was discounted at the end of year review and put through on an automatic 'average' despite the fact id been doing the grade above job for three months with no extra pay and was told I'd at least be put forward for the bonus moderation. Out of sight out of mind.

I've also now been told I can't compete because I'm not full time.


AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 04-Nov-13 17:08:53

thanks to everyone who has done the survey: do feel free to add comments on this thread: they will get read by the team who are dealing with this survey.

muchadoaboutsomething Mon 04-Nov-13 17:18:38

Strange glue, not competing because you are part time sounds like a breach of the part time workers regulations to me.

Pistillate Mon 04-Nov-13 17:31:59

There are some really good comments on here. I said no to more legislation, because I don't know what more legislation would do. I think there should be a change to existing legislation and parents should have equal rights to a block of parental leave, so they could both take 6 months off together if they wanted, or could take turns for the first year. This would mean all parents can have experience of being sidelined whilst on parental leave.... See if that changes things! Also it would support parents in sharing care. Maternity leave means that mums at home do all the baby care and probably most of the household management too. Then what happens when they go back to work? Suddenly dads start doing 50%? hmmmm.

For me the biggest thing my employers could do would be change their insurance policy so that in an emergency I can bring my kids into work. I realise this involves careful management, and I wouldn't have been interested in this before now, but they are now old enough to be quite capable of sitting at a desk and doing little bits of admin, or school work or reading or games without stopping me from working.

Like others, I find the being part time is the main barrier to advancement. That and the fact that I work in a small team where people sit in their jobs for 25 years.

OK, posted earlier, but not in much detail. When I had my children I was working for an American multinational - they had all the right policies etc, but basically did the minimum they could get away with legally. My responses on the survey are about that company. The occupational health nurse was a lifesaver when I found my workload too heavy going during pregnancy. I went back full time after first child and was determined to go p/t after the second, but I had to fight tooth and nail for it and accept that my career progression was stalled. In a way I didn't mind as I didn't want to climb the management ladder anyway, and it gave me a legitimate excuse, but I really felt I was doing no favours to myself or working women in general by letting this happen, and I was definitely getting given all the crap work. Anyway, eventually I was offered voluntary redundancy which I took, and was fortunate enough to find work at a similar but much smaller, local company and it is oh, so different. No real career prospects, because like Pistillate people tend to stay and we have a flat structure (1x boss, and several employees). However they are incredibly flexible (to all staff, not just parents), the benefits are great, I have never once been made to feel less valued because of working part time and the work is interesting and enjoyable. I am studying part time to stretch my brain and improve the content of my CV in lieu of progress in the workplace and am all round much happier.

I don't think changes in legislation would makes these differences, it is all down to the mindset of the management.

Thurlow Tue 05-Nov-13 14:03:01

Done. I could also have done with a separate comments section. My line manager and my department have been great, but my firm (largeish corporate) has been pants. Everything I get away with re leaving early or starting late is completely off the record.

The main problem for me, like most posters I imagine, is that changing to a new job scares me as you then have the whole issue of one day suddenly announcing you have childre and have to leave early for an emegency. At the moment, in my long-term job, I don't care - I've been here forever, I've been so flexible, they owe me this. But in a new job it would be so different.

Ilovemyrabbits Wed 06-Nov-13 21:20:48


AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 08-Nov-13 12:37:53

Thanks for all the responses: c00k1e wins the £50 Amazon voucher

Well done c00k1e!

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