Plans to boost protections for pregnant women and new parents returning to work

New research from LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, has found that a third (36 per cent) of UK professionals believe their employer does not do enough to support new parents. The release of the figures comes as LinkedIn finds today – 18th March – is the day that working families only just start getting paid for the year, once growing childcare costs are taken into account.*

The survey of 4,000 UK workers found that professionals feel they are being left in the dark when it comes to parental policies, with a third (37per cent) not even aware of what support their workplace provides for new parents. At the same time, nearly two thirds (60 per cent) said their employer was not completely transparent about its parental policies when they joined.

The two biggest challenges facing working parents were identified as flexible working arrangements and the cost of childcare.

Flexible working was cited by 38 per cent of workers as the most desirable policy for supporting parents, and LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends report found that nearly nine in 10 (84 per cent) UK businesses believe it helps employees achieve better work/life satisfaction.

However, nearly two fifths of women (38 per cent) say they feel uncomfortable discussing flexible hours with their boss. The top reasons for this include feeling their employer sees flexible working as an inconvenience (41 per cent), fearing they will say no to requests (40 per cent), feeling they will be seen as needy for requesting it ( 37 per cent), and fearing they will be seen as less productive or committed to their job (33 per cent).

When it comes to childcare costs, just 23 per cent of UK workers feel it is financially worthwhile returning to work after having a child. The average UK worker feels that covering the cost of childcare comfortably requires a household income of over £55,000 a year, with this rising to £73,000 in Greater London – a far reach from the average salary (£29,832 outside of London and £44,714 in Greater London).

As a result, parents are considering their options after returning to work. A quarter (26 per cent) – rising to 29 per cent for women – have considered switching careers altogether to find a job that is more accommodating to working families. And half of parents said that they delayed having a child – on average for up to two and a half years – in anticipation of the childcare bills they would have to cover.

Jon Addison, Head of Talent Solutions at LinkedIn UK, commented,

Flexible working is becoming one of the hot topics working parents discuss with their LinkedIn communities. However, our research reveals that many employees still don’t feel comfortable talking about flexible working options, and would even consider switching careers to find a job that better matches their family commitments.

The birth of a baby is a life-changing moment and businesses have a huge role to play to help working parents and consider how they can support their employees through flexible working options, whether that be the option to work at home or introducing flexi-time initiatives, or even being open to have that conversation to begin with.

LinkedIn members and business leaders including Anna Whitehouse, founder of blogging platform ‘Mother Pukka’, working parent campaigner Christine Armstrong, CEO and author of ‘She’s Back’ Lisa Unwin, and executive search business owner David Hunt have been sparking conversation on LinkedIn. They’ve been opening up the debate about balancing parenting and working life and what businesses can do to support.

LinkedIn is encouraging businesses to join the conversation using #ParentsAtWork. How has your business helped to support working parents and what are the challenges you’ve faced supporting parents in the workplace? How do you leverage your family policies and flexible working practices to attract candidates and retain top talent?

The findings also revealed that the top workplace perk / policies that would help parents balance work and family are: More flexible / agile working; A creche onsite or nearby; Paid-for childcare or subsidies; Better maternity or paternity pay; Better pay and bonuses; Equal paternity rights for men

*The date of 18th March was calculated using figures from the Office for National Statistics, based on two parents working full time, earning the average UK salary (£29,832) paying for 40 hours of childcare per week. The date extends to 8th May for a single parent working full time.

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Aphrodite is a creative writer and editor specialising in publishing and communications. She is passionate about undertaking projects in diverse sectors. She has written and edited copy for media as varied as social enterprise, art, fashion and education. She is at her most happy owning a project from its very conception, focusing on the client and project research in the first instance, and working closely with CEOs and Directors throughout the consultation process. Much of her work has focused on rebranding; messaging and tone of voice is one of her expertise, as is a distinctively unique writing style in my most of her creative projects. Her work is always driven by the versatility of language to galvanise image and to change perception, as it is by inspiring and being inspired by the wondrous diversity of people with whom paths she crosses cross!

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