Building a Talented Workforce | Employment law

In a candidate driven market finding new talent for your workforce can feel like an uphill struggle. But many employers could be overlooking a large talent pool of employees, especially those who are women returning from maternity leave.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s 2018 “Britain is Fairer?” Report found that 77 % of mothers had a negative or possibly discriminatory experience during pregnancy, maternity leave or on returning to work.

Women taking time away from work or working part time to balance caring responsibilities is also seen as a key driver of the gender pay gap.

The law is designed to offer protection to pregnant women and maternity returners but in some cases, it can work against those it seeks to protect. Sadly, when some employers hear the word “pregnancy”, they immediately discount the pregnant employee as a future contributor to their business.

This need not be the case. From the start of a pregnancy to the time when the employee is ready to return to work could be 18 months and in that time, both parties’ needs will likely have changed considerably. Thinking laterally and being open to exploring ways in which the maternity returner could make a valuable future contribution to the business is often overlooked. But employers who are able to do so may find a loyalty and flexibility they hadn’t anticipated.

Michelle O’Hara, Head of Employment at Thursfields: “Maternity returners represent an untapped talent pool and an opportunity for employers to find competitive advantage. Honest dialogue and flexibility is needed on both sides to make the relationship work well. Going the extra mile to shape a role that is a good fit for both employer and employee usually brings its own rewards to a business.”

With offices in Worcester, Kidderminster, Solihull, Birmingham, Sedgley and Halesowen, Thursfields’ Employment Team can help employers understand their legal obligations when it comes to pregnancy and maternity leave and provide advice and guidance on solutions that will work for employer and employee alike. For more information call Michelle O’Hara on 01905 677041 or email

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