Press release

Publication of research report No.777: Maternity and Paternity Rights and Women Returners Survey 2009/10

Findings are published today of a survey of over 2000 mothers and 1,200 fathers of children born in 2008.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Findings are published today of a survey of over 2000 mothers and 1,200 fathers of children born in 2008. This joint survey with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills provides a detailed, statistically representative, updated picture of maternity and paternity leave, Statutory Maternity and Paternity Pay (SMP and SPP), Occupational Maternity and Paternity Pay (OMP and OPP) and Maternity Allowance (MA).  It assesses the impact of changes brought about as a result of the Work and Families Act 2006, and examines mothers’ return to work decisions alongside the availability of family friendly employment practices.  Interviews took place 12 to 18 months after the birth of the child with parents who had worked in the 12 months prior to the birth. The report shows that:

  • The mean length of maternity leave taken by mothers increased from 32 weeks in 2006 to 39 weeks in 2008.
  • The overwhelming majority of mothers who had worked before childbirth had received some type of maternity pay. In particular:
  • 42 per cent of mothers received Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) only;
  • 32 per cent of mothers received SMP and Occupational Maternity Pay (OMP);
  • 4 per cent of mothers received OMP only;
  • 11 per cent of mothers received Maternity Allowance only and
  • 11 per cent of mothers received no maternity pay.
  • Three out of four (77 per cent) mothers had returned to work 12-18 months after childbirth. There was no statistically significant difference between the return to work rate in 2006 and 2008. In 2006 76 per cent of mothers returned to work. 
  • The factors with the strongest association with returning to work included: employer size and sector, duration of pre-birth job, type of maternity pay received, family structure and mothers’ educational levels.
  • Two thirds of fathers (66 per cent) took some time off from work before their baby was born. Nine out of ten fathers (91 per cent) took some time off after the birth of their baby. Of the fathers who took time off three quarters took paternity leave either on its own or in combination with other types of leave. Half of the fathers who took paternity leave took their full entitlement of two weeks.

Notes to Editors

  1. Research design and fieldwork were undertaken by the National Centre for Social Research. The report authors are Jenny Chanfreau, Sally Gowland, Zoe Lancaster, Eloise Poole, Sarah Tipping and Mari Toomse.
  2. It is published on 6 October 2011 in the DWP Research Report series:
  3. Survey findings are based on face-to-face interviews with a nationally representative sample of 2031 mothers and telephone interviews with 1253 fathers.  Respondents were interviewed 12-18 months after the birth of their child.  Interviews were conducted over two years in autumn 2009 and 2010. 
  4. The results of the 2009/2010 Maternity Rights Survey are directly comparable to the results of the previous survey - La Valle, I., Clery, E. and Huerta, M.C. (2008) Maternity Rights and mothers’ employment decisions. DWP Research Report 496.
  5. The Work and Families Act 2006 and associated regulations /package introduced a number of changes to mothers’ maternity leave and pay entitlements.  In particular, from 1 April 2007:
    • the Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) period increased from 26 to 39 weeks;
    • the Maternity Allowance (MA) period increased from 26 to 39 weeks;
    • the eligibility requirements for Additional Maternity Leave (AML) were removed, which enabled all employed mothers to take up to one year’s Statutory Maternity Leave;
    • the introduction of Keeping In Touch days enabled women to agree with their employers that they would work for up to 10 days during their maternity leave.
  6. The Act did not make changes to fathers’ entitlements. At the time that is covered in this report (2008) fathers could take two weeks of Statutory Paternity Leave after their baby was born. During the leave most were entitled to flat rate Statutory Paternity Pay.  The interviews took place prior to the introduction of Additional Paternity Leave which came into force for parents of babies due from April 2011.
  7. At the time of the survey parents with children aged less than six or of a disabled child aged less than 18 had a right to request flexible working.  The employers have an obligation to consider all requests and can only refuse these if they have a clear business reason for doing so.
Published 6 October 2011