Return-to-work experiences of female employees following maternity leave

11 Feb 2015

Corporate culture seemingly does not encourage talented women to return to the workplace or continue to operate effectively in the workplace, while managing their domestic responsibilities. This has a direct influence on the progression of talented women to senior positions and their retention in those positions (Baggallay 2011). While the above statement may be a narrow view, considering shifts in many companies' policies which aim to support work-family balance, there are still many underlying concerns regarding working mothers. The primary purpose of this study is to identify common themes arising from the return-to-work experiences of female employees following maternity leave in South Africa. The results of this study revealed that despite viewing work positively, the participants in the study found the return-to-work experience after childbirth difficult. A significant change in the attitudes of the participants towards their careers after childbirth was also identified. This change is not necessarily negative and should not be interpreted as an indication of loss of interest by the employees in their careers. It does, however, highlight the need for adequate management of the whole process from “workplace pregnancy” to return to work of female employees. Employers open to the evolution of best practice for maternity leave will attract and retain high-calibre female talent.