Women and Self Doubt in Sunday Times and Perils of Long Maternity Breaks in Sunday Telegraph

Woman-with-money-and-invest This past weekend was a fantastic weekend for my book, "Beyond the Boys Club" as I was interviewed for my opinion as an executive coach who works with professional women, for two national newspapers.  The first was in the Sunday Times Style section on "Why Women Suffer from Self-Doubt"  and another article "Perils of the Pregnant Pause" about the downsides of extended maternity breaks in the Sunday Telegraph. If you missed either article, just click through the links above.  

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  • Esther Haines

    Regarding the Sunday Telegraph article, while I agree that the focus on maternity leave is not necessarily helpful to women, because it focusses on women as mothers and carers rather than as professionals and because the longer women are away from the workforce the harder it is for them to get back. However, finding one woman for whom maternity leave is a bit of a holiday is hardly proof that this is a common experience. My own experience of maternity leave was that when my son slept I slept. In fact, I think caring for a small baby is much harder work than theoretical physics. Also, the statements made about maternity leave are misleading. When a women takes maternity leave it is the employer’s responsibility to advise her of the end date of her leave (ordinary maternity leave plus additional maternity leave). If the employee wants to return earlier she must give at least eight weeks notice. She must give at least eight weeks notice of any change to an agreed return date. If she decides not to return she must resign in the normal way. An employee returning to work after her ordinary maternity leave is entitled to her old job back. However, while an employee returning after additional maternity leave is entitled to her old job back, if this is not reasonably practicable then her employer can offer her a job that is both suitable and appropriate for her to do and on terms and conditions that are no less favourable than those for her original job. Eight weeks notice ought to give employers sufficient time to make arrangements. Perhaps, organisations should focus more on providing appropriate adivice and training for managers of women who take maternity leave.
    For most mothers adequate maternity leave is essential for their own health and that of their babies. As a society we are surely entitled to rate the health of women and babies a higher priority than the convenience of managers.
    References: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Parents/Moneyandworkentitlements/WorkAndFamilies/Pregnancyandmaternityrights for employees’ rights and responsibilities and http://www.businesslink.gov.uk for employers’ rights and responsibilities.