A new survey of 1,000 new mums on maternity leave suggests that nearly half will not take their full allowance, with the fear of redundancy the main factor in their decision.
Researchers from the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) discovered that 43 said that they were motivated by the fear of losing their job
An employee who is sacked for becoming pregnant or taking statutory maternity leave can claim discrimination and unfair dismissal, but the survey results clearly show that new mums remain nervous about using up their statutory leave.
And even after they return to work, anxiety over childcare remains. Nearly a third of women admitted that they would be wary of asking for flexible working hours to take care of a new baby in case the request jeopardised their job security.
The current maternity leave entitlement is 52 weeks, of which 39 weeks are paid. Women receive 90 of wages or £138.18 per week, making it an unappealing prospect for those earning over £150 per week.
Another third of respondents said that they would not consider sharing parental leave with their partner because they felt a duty to stay home with their baby.
Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the NCT, called for maternity and paternity pay to raised to the level of the minimum wage so that parents could have 'greater choice' in deciding when to go back to work.
More on Parentdish:
Your maternity leave rights explained
Paternity leave: Extended to fourweeks on full pay?