Women in the workplace are struggling to find details of their employer’s maternity packages but are too scared to ask for help according to Glassdoor, a jobs and careers community.

The survey reports that just 32 percent of female employees claim they were given information about maternity benefits when they started their current job. The research shows that nearly two in five (39 percent) female employees surveyed feel this information is difficult to find with 13 percent claiming that employees have to ask for it as it’s not published anywhere within the business. In addition, a further 41 percent of female employees report feeling uncomfortable asking for information about maternity leave benefits.

The survey, conducted by OnePoll, was carried out among 1,000 working women in the UK, 500 of which have already taken maternity leave and 500 who plan to do so in the future. In addition to evaluating access to information about maternity benefits, the survey also explored women’s attitudes towards asking their employers, or potential employers, about maternity benefits.

The survey points out that 42 percent of female employees would only ask their employer about maternity benefits if they were announcing a pregnancy. Reasons cited for not asking include: 43 percent were worried employers would think they were already pregnant, 37 percent felt it would be perceived that they were trying to get pregnant, 30 percent feel it’s just not professional, and alarmingly more than one in five (22 percent) fear they would be putting themselves at risk of redundancy.

For the majority of job seekers, it’s easy to ask about holidays, pensions, healthcare and other ‘mainstream’ benefits. However, when it comes to maternity benefits, almost four out of five (78 percent) of those surveyed think that asking for this information during the interview process would jeopardise their chances of getting the job. Half (51 percent) fear that potential employers may jump to the conclusion that they’re already pregnant and almost one in five (19 percent) don’t think they would be taken seriously for the job. Almost a third (31 percent) feel it would hinder their career progression.

It seems female employees cannot find a ‘best time to ask’ for this information as 22 percent would make a conscious decision to wait until they had passed their probation period to ask their line manager. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) would bypass authority altogether and ask a trusted colleague after they had been in the job a while.

When asked how they would like to see the availability of maternity information change, half of the women surveyed feel that it should be compulsory for all organisations to have a transparent benefits package from the start of the recruitment process which includes: 47 percent who would like to see it in the induction pack and 20 percent who feel that businesses with a competitive package should use it as a marketing tool to attract top female talent. Just 13 percent feel that there is the right amount of information available and three percent would not want to see their employers maternity benefits made public.

Jon Ingham, Glassdoor career and workplace expert comments:

“There are more than 13 million2 women in the workplace and amongst these more than 5 million3 are working mums. These women are an important part of UK businesses so it seems pretty short sighted to keep maternity benefit details under lock and key. In fact, a more honest and open attitude towards maternity benefits could improve the quality of candidates looking to work at your organisation. It may not be an intentional decision for employers to keep this information from female employees, however forcing them to ask for it is clearly causing a great deal of distress for many women in the workplace. Transparency around benefits in the workplace can actually build greater trust.”