Late last year, I published a post titled The Unemployed Mum about my experience being made redundant on maternity leave and my arduous job hunt that followed.
The response was overwhelming. Not only was I featured on Mumsnet’s front page – a personal blogging high for me so far – but I had emails, messages and comments from women all over the world with similar, sad stories of their own. I was shocked how many other women have been affected by the issues I discussed in my post.
I’ve heard stories from women who have been forced to return to a lower level role after Maternity Leave, who felt they had no choice but to resign because their employer was unable to accommodate their needs now they a had family, or who, like me, can’t seem to find their way back into the work place but so desperately want to.
Two organisations also got in touch; Maternity Matters and Maternity Action. The latter is a charity who offer advice and support to pregnant women and new parents on their rights in the work place. They also provide resources for employers to help them understand and navigate the laws, including the new shared parental leave and encourage fair treatment of parents in the workplace. (For more information, click here.)
Sadly, these issues aren’t going away and many parents – mothers in particular – still suffer discrimination in the workplace for being parents. This is not a subject we can afford to brush under the rug any longer. This is the 21st century. The time to act is now.
So, to help elevate the issue and raise awareness, I’m kicking off a new series on the blog featuring your stories. Whether you’re unemployed, on parental leave or returning to work after a career break to look after your children; whether you’re a mum or a dad, whether your struggles are on-going or you’ve found a solution by starting your own business or working for a sympathetic employer – I want to hear from you.
All interviews will be anonymous for both you and employers or companies mentioned during the interview. The aim of the game is not to name and shame but to raise awareness of the issues and try to change perceptions of parents as second-class working citizens.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Flexible working policies are improving nationwide and with the introduction of shared parental leave in 2015, some employers have ‘got it right’. I’d like to use this series of interviews to tell both sides of the story and ‘showcase’ businesses with a winning formula for a positive working environment and company culture that supports working parents. So, whether you’re an employee who would like to nominate your employer and discuss your experience or you yourself are an employer who’s ‘got it right’, please do get in touch.