On 29 August 2013, I heard Nick Grimshaw, aka “Grimmy”, Radio 1 breakfast show DJ, interviewing Fearne Cotton who has been on maternity leave. She is due to come back next week and this was the exchange:
“Nick: Morning Fearne!
Fearne: Morning! How are you lovely people?
Nick: Oh! I’d forgotten about you.
Fearne: Oh thanks.
Nick: Not really though. We have been dreaming about you. There’s posters up everywhere.
Fearne: I bet there are. That’s lovely.
Nick: There’s home-made shrines everywhere, where people have been bringing in candles and baking goods and…
Fearne: I’ve not died.
Nick: I know, but radio-wise…”
This is a perfect illustration of the underlying attitudes of employers and colleagues towards women on maternity leave: they are forgotten, side-lined, excluded, unimportant. It is almost as if maternity leavers are dead.
Our Maternity Discrimination research 'Mums Facing Discrimination In The Workplace' found, among other things, that a massive 25% of return to work mums felt they were no longer needed in their jobs and half of the questioned returning mothers said that they felt attitudes of colleagues and bosses had changed towards them.
Today (2 September) we welcome Fearne back to the airwaves. Fearne, your listeners have missed you (including me, even though I am not in the correct demographic to still be listening!).
You can hear the exchange 1 hour 34 minutes into the show.
By Employment Solicitor Kiran Daurka.