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Outside The Box awards Scotland’s first ‘Mum Friendly Workplace’ stamp

Posted July 17th 2019 by Rhiannon J Davies

Cadzow Nursery School in Hamilton is celebrating this week after becoming Scotland’s first certified ‘mum friendly workplace’. The nursery was one of two that took part in the pilot training scheme, alongside Indigo Childcare Group based in Castlemilk.

The training was created by Glasgow-based community development charity Outside The Box and funded by the Scottish Government Workplace Equality Fund, managed by Impact Funding Partners.

The project was led by community development advisor Jill Keegan who developed the programme after facing maternity discrimination at a previous employer. She has spoken to women across Scotland who shared similar experiences.

These findings follow 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. And one in five mums said that they experienced negative comments or harassment in relation to flexible working or pregnancy.

Outside The Box have already developed a Guide for Working Mums and a Discussion Paper for Employers tackling this issue. Their newest development is working in partnership with businesses in the childcare sector to produce a good practice guide for employers, an information website and online training resource, which launched this week:

Employers can sign up for to take the training with follow up support meetings and bespoke in-person training (if required) to become certified ‘mum friendly workplace(s)’. This involves supporting employers to have open conversations on how to support women back to the workplace after maternity to help maintain a skilled and loyal workforce.

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

“I was systematically discriminated against in the workplace from the point I told my old boss I was pregnant to the day I left after six months maternity.  I’d been in my job for five years. I got speaking to other mums who shared horrendous stories of discrimination. The knock on effect of this for families and employers is significant yet avoidable with support.

“Mums Returning to Work has been developed to support employers and employees create a space for open discussion about what works. The website will continue to develop and evolve with spaces for people from different sectors to share industry specific advice. There is lots of information out there about legal obligations around maternity, yet we’re still failing women, their families and the workplace – because we’re losing skilled women.

“We want the website and training to open up the conversation and empower employers and employees to stand up for women’s rights in their equal access to the workplace.”

Leanne Kelly, Manager of the Cadzow Nursery, said:

“Working with Outside The Box has provided us with valuable training in understanding the challenges women face returning to work after maternity leave. It has encouraged us to reflect on our current policies and procedures allowing us to see the strengths we already have in place supporting mothers in a predominantly female workforce  but also allowed us to identify any gaps to ensure our practice fully supports our current and future workforce, who are vital in providing the service we deliver.”

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Outside the Box is a certified living wage employer