Maternity leave hits chances of promotion

THE findings of a new survey provide little comfort to women who fear that it is difficult to combine motherhood with a successful business career.

Almost six out of 10 employers have admitted that a woman’s prospects of promotion are damaged by taking maternity leave.

According to the study by human resource management firm, Graphite HRM, 59% of employers claim a female employee’s chances of career advancement are damaged when she takes time off to have a baby.

Its findings come after a separate study by the Economic and Social Research Institute last week highlighted how lower levels of work experience are the single greatest factor preventing women from enjoying the same pay as their male counterparts.

“Our survey findings offer little hope to expectant mothers with a career in place. Employers are willing to hire women of this age but not promote them once they’ve given birth,” said Graphite HRM chief executive officer, Simon MacRory. “These findings show that employers have no problem hiring women of child-bearing age but if they want to take maternity leave, they’re taking themselves off the list for promotion.”

In addition, the surveyalso reveals that 39% ofemployers believe the current provisions for maternity leave in Ireland are too generous.

Under legislation, allfemale employees are entitled to take maternity leave for a basic period of 26 weeks plus an additional 16 weeks of unpaid leave.

“While there is little doubt that the origins of maternity legislation were well founded, its effect in the workplace is often the exact opposite,” said Mr MacRory.

He also pointed out that many expectant mothers were unaware that theirmaternity leave could be cancelled immediately if they tried to remain working during that leave.

“If a woman does work on a day that she has selected for maternity leave, she is then considered ready toreturn to work” explained Mr MacRory.

The survey also showed that many employers are unaware of legislation governing the limit on work employees can do in a week.

Over a third of employers said they did not know the requirements of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 which states that the maximum average working week for many employees cannot exceed 48 hours.

Mr MacRory said many people were taking on second jobs due to the recession and that both workers and their bosses were often unaware they can face a fine of up to €1,903 each if the employee has exceeded the working time limit.


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