Mums and adopters will have real choice about when they return to work, dads will have more time to bond with their children, children will have better outcomes, while employers will benefit from lower staff turnover and having a workforce that is more flexible and motivated. And who wouldn't want that?
Caroline is passionate about empowering women to make themselves vital to their employers and their industry, so they don't end up getting sidelined on returning to work. "I help women look at how they can build their career and prove their worth long before they get pregnant so that any employer would give their right arm to keep them, even on a flexible basis.
Lack of support can leave women "faced with the feeling like they're not enough at either home or work" and prone to dropping out, says Chivers. "These are women who know they can deliver great things at work and raise happy, normal kids if only their and their partners' employers would trust them enough to crack on in flexible fashion."
For 4 weeks I had no job to go to or even think about; and no babies yet. For the first time, probably since I was at university, I was completely free to do what I wanted for days on end. Of course, what I wanted most of all was to sit on the sofa like a beached whale - I was huge and had no energy. But still, the feeling of freedom was starting to take hold.
I have seen returning mothers, particularly in the City, feeling very vulnerable about their positions, especially when management changes while they were away. They feel as if their track record has been effectively wiped out. Managers have also become risk averse when putting together their teams.
I believe having a baby is a luxury in the current economic climate and SMEs should not be expected to foot the bill. Maternity leave was designed for large corporate firms. It can have a devastating impact on an SME. If you only employ three or four people and one of them goes on maternity leave, it can cripple your business. I am calling on the government to look at the way it legislates for maternity leave and to recognise that we are not all multinational corporates.