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Mumsnet calls for big companies to publish maternity and paternity policies

woman interview work

Eight out of 10 are reluctant to ask potential employers about pay and leave for new parents, fearing it would make a job offer less likely

Mumsnet is today calling for large employers to publish their parental leave policies for all to see, as a survey of over 1000 parents and prospective parents reveals how keeping these policies hidden has an enormous impact on those returning to work or looking to switch jobs. More than eight out of 10 (82%) of those surveyed said they were reluctant to ask potential employers about parental leave policies because they feared it ‘would make a job offer less likely’.

The results show how those who have children, or who are considering adding a baby to their family, avoid asking for crucial information about prospective employers’ policies. For fear of giving a negative impression:

  • 66% say they have avoided asking about parental leave policies at interview stage;
  • 57% say they have avoided asking about parental leave policies after a job offer; and
  • 40% have avoided asking about parental leave policies after being employed.

84% say employers’ parental leave policies are important to them when applying for or considering applying for a job, but 66% say that at least once they have found it difficult or impossible to find information about parental leave policies when considering a position. 50% agree employers make it difficult for jobseekers to find out about parental leave policies, and 37% say that not being able to find out about parental leave policies has made it more difficult for them to find suitable work.

Mumsnet Founder Justine Roberts said: “This is a hidden form of discrimination that’s gone on for way too long. Women thinking about starting or adding to their families are finding it impossible to make informed judgements about job offers, and dads who want to play their full part are increasingly finding themselves in the same position. They’re in a double-bind, because even asking the question can mean they go no further in an application process. Requiring large companies to publish their policies is a small, cost-free change that puts power back in the hands of jobseekers. As with gender pay gap reporting, this sort of public accountability celebrates employers with inclusive policies, powerfully incentivises others to be better – and allows parents to decide which job ads just aren’t worth their time.’

Jo Swinson, LibDem Deputy Leader, who has called on the government to require employers of 250+ people to publish their parental pay and leave policies – a proposal that was supported by 91% of Mumsnet survey respondents – said: “I am delighted to have Mumsnet support my campaign for employers publishing parental leave and pay policies. This research highlights why transparency on parental pay policies is so vital. Four in five people say they wouldn’t be comfortable asking about parental pay at interview, and my Bill would mean they could find the information without having to ask. This is an easy and simple step that all employers can take to create a more supportive culture for new parents. If we are serious about tackling discrimination against new parents and pregnant women, this is one small but important change that is needed."

Read the full data here.

February 2019