Page last updated at 10:39 GMT, Monday, 14 July 2008 11:39 UK

Maternity leave: Mothers' views

The extension of maternity leave may be sabotaging women's careers, Nicola Brewer, the head of the new Equalities and Human Rights Commission has warned.

But what do mothers around the country think? Here are some of the comments BBC News has received.

ROSE, CAMBRIDGE

I took a year off when my son was born. I think spending the first year of your child's life with them is hugely important and would not have done anything differently.

However, I was not entitled to my old job back when I returned to the same company, regardless of my loyalty and hard work, so a compromise had to be reached. I know that I will not have the same opportunities for promotion as I chose to come back part-time, but your priorities change and you don't take work so seriously once you have a kid.

I think the whole process of returning to work should be made easier for women as it nearly gave me a hernia… it was so stressful arranging childcare and working out finances.

KATE WITT, BRIGHTON

Next week I will return to work after 10 months' maternity leave. I have had to compromise my career in the police but that is more my choice than that of my employer, who has been very good. I do feel that some women feel they should have it all. Having children is a choice and a privilege that some are not lucky enough to have.

LOUISE, BRISTOL

I work for a large financial services company who have been very flexible in allowing me to work part-time since returning from maternity leave.

I do however feel that my career is now non-existent and that I am simply 'accommodated'. My opinion is not respected as much as it used to be and I feel as though I have to work extra hard to prove my worth in the team.

Although this is very frustrating, I have learned to appreciate that I should just be grateful for the fact I am able to work two days a week, and am therefore free to enjoy the rest of the time with my son while I can!

SARAH, KENT

My employer was openly hostile from the moment I announced my pregnancy, after luring me to the role with promises of being family-friendly. I was pressured to continue to work extended hours despite advice to the contrary from my GP, and my bonus was illegally deducted due to "pregnancy-related" issues.

The legislation enabling working mothers to pay proper attention to their maternal responsibilities is a wonderful thing, but it's still far too easy for employers to play fast and loose with maternity rights, which needs to end.

CANDICE BRIGGS, HIGH WYCOMBE

I am 22 and I started my current job at 19. I fell pregnant a few months after I started the job and have been treated fairly and rightly by my company. I was welcomed back into the office, with no questions asked.

Women should have a right to choose between a family and career, but why can we not have both? We are often criticised for working a nine-to-five job and not seeing our children grow up? What is that about? Women should have a right to have children and a career.



SEE ALSO
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