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Mums Supporting Mums – What Helped You?

Posted March 12th 2019 by Rhiannon

Take part in the survey

We are calling on mums to help tackle maternity discrimination in the workplace by sharing their experiences of supports that have helped them. Using an online survey to collect stories of things that have improved mental health and wellbeing of mums returning to work, we hope to provide examples of best practice and raise awareness of the problems that employers may be contributing to.

Outside The Box have already been working with groups of mums over the past year who shared their stories of discrimination. We found that mums are being discriminated against because they are pregnant in the workplace, because they are having to go on maternity and because they are a mum returning to work.

Our findings are backed up by statistics provided by the Department of Business, which show that every year in the UK, as many as 54,000 mums feel that they have to leave their jobs. While 77 percent of mums say they have had a negative or discriminatory experience during pregnancy, maternity leave, and/or on return from maternity leave. One in five mums (20% – or up to 100,000 women) said that they experienced negative comments or harassment in relation to flexible working or pregnancy.

Many women are unaware of their rights, and this lack of awareness is part of the problem. In fact, all mums:

  • have the right to 52 weeks maternity leave with the right to return to work thereafter,
  • are entitled to all contractual terms and conditions during maternity leave, apart from pay ,
  • have the right to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy if they are made redundant during maternity leave,
  •  have the right to ask for flexible work,
  • are protected against unfair treatment, unfair dismissal, discrimination because of pregnancy, child birth and maternity leave.

These facts and more are listed in a Guide for Working Mums that was published by Outside The Box last year.

Jill Keegan, Community Development Advisor at Outside The Box, said:

“I was discriminated against in previous employment from the point I told my boss I was pregnant to returning to work six months later. I constantly had my professional capabilities called into question and began to believe I wasn’t capable or good enough. It resulted in me leaving a post I had been in for five years – I could no longer cope with feeling so low, isolated and useless.”

“What makes things good for me at work as a Mum is being in an environment that supports people’s mental health and wellbeing. Flexible working is a key component of this, but relationships built on trust and support allow for open lines of communication with my boss and colleagues. Social support in the workplace has helped me feel valued as an important part of a bigger team. Being respected as a person with a life and responsibilities is liberating – I don’t feel useless anymore.”

Additional quotes from the mums who Outside The Box spoke to, include:

“What really upset me was when I came back I’d had important responsibilities taken from me and given to others. This was never discussed nor was I given them back. I felt like I was being punished and no longer valued.” Amanda from Fife*

“I’d had a difficult birth and my baby had to have an operation after she was born. A few days later, after getting home from the hospital, I received a letter telling me that whilst on maternity I had been put on the re-deployment list and would have to re-interview for my job. My baby was still unwell, I was breast feeding and we were all trying to recover as a family. I still don’t know how I got myself to that interview.” Amy from Edinburgh*

“My employer sent me 3 separate contracts after I told her I was pregnant -each one contracting me out of my maternity rights and I was pressured to sign, or I’d lose my job.” Kerry from Glasgow*

“I was forced to come back on a full -time basis or I was told I could lose my job.” Charlotte from Motherwell*

*All names/locations changed.

To take part in the survey, visit:




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