Company Blog

Working Parents at Variohm

This is a popular topic for us at the moment, over the past 5 years eleven of our employees have been on parental leave, this includes maternity, paternity and adoption leave.

In the BBC article, Theresa May told Mumsnet "More often than not, it is women who give up their careers to devote themselves to motherhood, only to find the route back into employment closed off, the doors shut to them.

"This isn't right, it isn't fair, and it dsn't make economic sense.

"So I want to see this scheme extended to all levels of management and into industries where women are under-represented."

Because of this, a £5m fund to help mothers back to work will be set out in the Budget.

Because we believe that we have a higher than average percentage of parents who do come back to work following maternity leave, we have spoken to some of our working parents here at Variohm to get their point of view on how their career has changed since having children. Although a split maternity leave is now offered, none of our employees have chosen to do this. In all of our cases, the mother has taken the bulk of the leave. We feel that we have supported them to get them back to work if this is what they want to do.

Working Mothers at Variohm

It is interesting to note that most of the mothers of young children who work at Variohm have not returned to work on full time hours. Children change people’s lifestyles and it may not be in the interest of the mother to return to work full time for a number of reasons – child care can be very expensive, some mothers would much prefer to spend more time at home and sometimes working fewer hours fits in better for the daily routine of the children.

As an employer we have noted that things change for people when they become parents, we are open to this and often expect to receive a flexible working request before a new mother returns to work.

Cathy is our Operations Director, she explains Variohm’s attitude to new mothers in their work force “At Variohm we recognise the investment we have made in our employees and that if we lose new mothers we also lose their experience and passion for our customers. We don’t want to lose valuable employees so we will look for solutions around working hours which work for them but also for us. We are happy to have exploratory conversations with new mothers to suggest where we could share a role to give a reduced working week without affecting our customer service levels.”

We currently have three mothers on leave here at Variohm and two who have returned to work following maternity leave in 2016.

Cathy is on leave herself, this is the third time she has taken parental leave, she hasn’t worked regular full time hours since the birth of her first daughter ten years ago, she explains more about her situation “As a mother of 5 children aged between 10 and 2 and currently off on adoption leave I am going to be returning to work in July on reduced hours. I adore my children but work is also important to me, it brings the obvious benefits of extra income but more than that it brings a sense of achievement, being part of a high performing team, having a space where I am not just a mother. I love working for Variohm and being able to have a family and a career is a privilege, that dsn’t always make it easy but it’s how I want to live my life and it works for my family.”

Emma is our Admin Manager, she returned to work in April 2016 after having some time off on maternity leave having her little boy. She describes her work/life situation at the moment “I have worked very hard with Variohm to get to where I am and I am extremely fortunate that I have a company who have backed me all the way, even to the point of making me the Administration Manager when I returned to work after my maternity leave. First and foremost I am a mother and a wife and I want to create the best life I can for my son and my husband. It is nolonger the case that a man gs out to work and earns the money whilst the wife stays at home and takes care of the children. I am career driven but that isn’t just solely down to having children, I have always had a need to push myself and succeed at what I do, just because I am now a mum ds not mean that I have to give up what I want to do for a living.”

Alison works on our marketing and returned to work in May 2016 following the birth of her daughter. She currently works three days a week, she says “Variohm was very understanding of the fact that I had decided I didn’t want to work full time when I had a family. Although I really enjoy my job and wouldn’t want to give up working, for me personally, spending time with my child is the most important thing, I’ll never get this time back and I am lucky enough to have an employer who recognises that.”

Speaking to many of our employees, one of the most difficult things to organise when returning to work is the childcare, many facilities can cost up to £200 per week for young children. The Government has a few schemes in place to help out parents with Childcare but it is still a big financial issue for some families.

Alison says “I am lucky enough to have family around me to help with childcare, I know this has been a barrier to come back to work for many of my friends”

Working fathers at Variohm

As well as our ever-growing number of new mothers at Variohm we also have quite a few men who have become working fathers over the past few years. We have noticed that although the option to take shared parental leave is there, not many of our employees have chosen to take it, here’s why;

Mitchell works in our stores department; he became a father over 2 years ago and took one week off as paternity leave and a following week as holiday. He explains why “We chose not to share the parental leave due to myself being the only source of income and my partner wanting to spend as much time as possible with our daughter while she was young. Although we weren’t in the right situation at the time we do think splitting maternity leave is a good option for parents to have and we would definitely consider doing this next time.”

Mitchell’s partner, Lauren, wasn’t in work when they had their daughter but has since managed to get the career she wanted “After having our daughter, Lauren enrolled at college and has recently completed her course, started her new job and re-enrolled in another course. For her, being a mother gave her the motivation to better herself and helped her gain valuable skills which helped her secure the job role she wanted with good progression and minimal compromise.” So, not everyone finds that the doors to their careers are closed after becoming a parent.

Ben in our accounts department became a father in 2016. He took the standard 2 weeks paternity pay while his partner chose to have longer, he says “My wife and I decided not to take shared parental leave for a couple of reasons, the main reason was the money. I earn more than my wife so it wasn’t economical for me to be at home on maternity leave whilst my wife was at work earning less than I would have been. The second reason was that my daughter was exclusively breastfed as a baby so she needed to be close to her mum and I was happy to support this decision”

Zahan works in our engineering department and has two children; he has taken 2 weeks paternity leave for each child and no extended parental leave. He says “I enjoy my job more than my wife enjoys hers so it makes sense for me to be the one working”.