Returning to work after maternity leave is fraught with challenges, both emotional and physical. For many women, securing flexibility and childcare is something that is likely to be top of the list when negotiating their return. And, once confirmed, something which might stop them moving elsewhere or upwards - a phenomenon known as the Sticky Floor.
Indeed, the return to work can be something truly controversial - take, for example, the recent case of Sabbah Messum, an HR assistant at Bradford Management Services. The 38-year-old mum of three successfully sued the company when, after many different negative experiences during maternity (including being accused of stealing from the staff canteen) she was removed from HR duties, first putting on a sales team then assigning her to housekeeping roles such as cleaning toilets.
Today's Top Stories
- 'Clearly banter' | HR worker sues employer for asking him who 'would be in his threesome'
- 'Shake it off' | Inspiration for HR professionals from Taylor Swift as she's named Time's Person of the Year 2023
- DE&I | The fundamental keys to honing a diverse talent pool
- Big Interview | Katie Warrington, Head of HR Services, Volkswagen Financial Services UK
- Work Culture | How to create and sustain a resilient and healthy working culture
Speaking after the case, Messum said: "I was told I didn't have a chance to win but I knew I was doing the right thing. I wanted other pregnant women to know how to get help on how to save themselves."
Some women might not be treated to such an extreme, but many find themselves either sidelined or discriminated against. And then there's the flipside: Where things are 'ok enough' that a woman will stay in a role, or not go for promotion, for fear of losing what privileges and flexibility they have.