• Having recently returned to the workplace following a period of maternity leave I was interested to read an article on LinkedIn suggesting that stay-at-home parents looking to return to the workplace are about half as likely to receive callbacks for jobs than unemployed parents. The research went on to suggest that employers are more likely to view stay at home parents as “less reliable, less deserving of a job, and…less committed”.

    The comments that have followed this range from outrage to acceptance.  Whilst for those returning immediately to work following maternity leave there are certain protections in place, there are no such specific protections for those that have taken a decision to remove themselves from the workplace for a period of time either due to family commitments or for other reasons, perhaps to travel and gain other life experiences.  If this research is true of UK employers, it truly is a shame as many of this individuals are likely to hold valuable knowledge and, potentially if having taken the time to look after their family or travel the world they will now be more committed to a workplace and more reliable.  Many employers are thinking carefully about attracting the best talent and this may mean adjusting what is considered to be the ‘norm’ such as the standard 9 to 5 working day or working from home.

    The research also indicates that men who chose to stay at home were more penalised than women.  The article suggests perhaps this is because there is an expectation that fathers should provide for their families rather than looking after them.  I think there is great value in the father being able to spend time at home with children and it would be wonderful to see more fathers using the shared parental leave provisions introduced by the Government.  Unfortunately, there has not been a great uptake by men on this and there does seem to be a fear amongst men that if they do, they may be penalised for this.  However, rest assured dads there is legal protection around this.

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