Earlier this year, the BBC released an article about a £5m budget to help mothers back to work.
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 doesn'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.
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 doesn’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 goes 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 does 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”
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”.
Peter in our production department is about to become a father, he is planning on taking the standard 2 weeks paternity leave when his baby is born. He and his wife are currently looking into childcare options to make a plan for his wife to go back to work.
Although Emma and her husband chose not to take a shared parental leave, they have since made plans to share the working week so that Emma can work more hours “I have been back at work for a year now and have recently increased my hours, I am now working a few more hours than I had originally planned as my husband is hoping to reduce his days to have some time with our son.”
When it comes to fathers taking time off of work, one of the members of our sales team actually gave up his previous job when his daughter was born. There was lots of travelling involved with his previous job and he wanted to spend more time at home. He took three months off of working, unpaid, and was then offered a job at Variohm. He describes this three months as “the best 3 months ever” as he got to spend plenty of time with his new daughter.
We also spoke to some of our working parents who have older children. We realised how much things have changed over the years. In the past 5 years we have had only one new mother who has decided not to come back to work.
Sue has been working in our accounts department for 19 years, she remembers a time when it was uncommon for mothers to go back to work after having children, she says “Although I worked 3 evenings a week, I didn’t go back to work in the day after having the children, as I wanted to spend the time with them and it wasn’t the acceptable thing to do.”
Variohm’s commitment to looking after their employees and offering flexible hours for parents is not a recent policy; when Sue began working for Variohm in 1998 she had three young children, Variohm allowed her to work certain hours to accommodate her commitments as a mother. She worked 3 hours a day for 3 days a week during term time and when the children got older and went to secondary school, she increased her hours. Sue says “Variohm have been very accommodating with me changing my hours over the years, to fit in with family life.”
Many of our male employees have become fathers during their time at Variohm. Alan Gilbert is our Stores Manager and has been working with us for over 30 years. During this time he has become a father to 2 children. He describes his experience with Variohm when he became a father “Variohm was very supportive in the early months, my son was born six weeks early and later contracted a streptococcus B infection which meant both myself and my wife had a few overnight stays in hospital. Variohm were very understanding letting me leave at a moment's notice no questions asked which was much appreciated.”
Graham has been working for Variohm for over twenty years and is another member of our team who has become a father during this time. When his son was born it was not a legal requirement for businesses to allow fathers off work for the birth of their children however, Graham had five days off before returning to the office. His wife Sarah returned to her job after six months but worked less hours to spend more time with their son.
Many employers may believe that parents who work part time are not committed to the company; we know that for Variohm this isn’t the case.
All of our part time working parents will often offer to work extra hours if it is needed, whether this is because it is extra busy, to cover the holiday or sick of other employees, to attend training courses or to help out with stock take. In fact, this is true of all of our employees, we tend to all pull together if we need to, people will often to offer work extra hours if the company needs them.
A lot of our part time working parents have the ability to receive their emails when they are not in the office so they can keep themselves up-to-date if they wish to, this is not a requirement from us, it is the choice of the individual.
Whilst on maternity leave, many of our mothers chose to work their Keeping In Touch (KIT) days. These are paid working days which can be worked during maternity leave without affecting maternity pay.
Alison says “I chose to do some KIT days when I was on maternity leave to keep myself on top of things with the company and my job. It was really nice to see everyone in the office during my time off and it really helped financially – going from a full time salary to statutory maternity pay is quite a shock to the system.”
Overall, as an employer we value our employees and their experience. We understand that mothers love their children and want to spend time with them but that doesn’t mean that they don’t want a career. We do our best to accommodate their needs and work together to find the best outcome for everyone.
Are you a working parent? How do you feel about the BBC Budget article? Are you able to achieve the best work/family balance for you?
For more information please contact: Variohm EuroSensors Ltd Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel:+44 (0) 1327 351004 Fax: +44 (0) 1327 353564
Article date: 02 / Jun / 2017
Working Parents at Variohm
Published by: Variohm EuroSensor
From 20th January 2017 Variohm Eurosensor Ltd is part of the discoverIE plc Group of companies
Variohm EuroSensor,Williams' Barn, Tiffield Road,Towcester, Northants NN12 6HP.
Tel: +44 (0) 1327 351004.
Fax: +44 (0) 1327 353564.