United Kingdom

Mother-of-two fears how her employer will react if she takes time off work for a third child

A woman who has taken a year off work for maternity leave after the birth of each of her two children, has admitted she's worried about how her employer will react if she decides to have a third child.

Posting anonymously on UK-based forum Mumsnet, the mother-of-two explained that she took a year off work following the birth of her children in 2018 and 2020.

She admitted to being concerned about how her workplace might react if she takes another year off work to care for a third baby, but said she and her husband have always wanted that number of children.

The majority of commenters urged her to prioritise expanding her family over work, but some did argue that she will be putting a strain on her colleagues and racking up expenses for her employer who has to hire temporary cover.  

A mother-of-two has sparked a debate about how important work is when deciding whether or not to have more children (file image) 

Posting on Mumsnet, the mother-of-two explained she took a year of maternity leave following the birth of her children in 2018 and 2020 

Asking for opinions, the mother-of-two revealed she was on maternity leave during 2018, returned to work for a year and left again in 2020 when she had her second child. 

'If all works out I'd potentially be on maternity leave for 2022/23,' she said. 

'My only reluctance really is work, I feel they will say I'm taking the p*** (not as directly as that obviously). But with the first, it's like "fine", second child "well I suppose it's what everyone does", third child "oh for goodness sake!".

'I could take less than a year's maternity leave, maybe six months and share the rest with mt husband, but I think the guilt of not breastfeeding for a year like I did with the other two would weigh heavy.

'Anyway, do you think I'm being unreasonable to think that most employers/managers think like this? I just don't know how I'd justify apart from it's the size of family we have always wanted.'

A stream of responses tried to discourage the mother from having a third child because of how it will affect her colleagues.

One person wrote: 'They will think you are taking the mickey. We've had women having one baby and returning already pregnant often repeatedly.'

'From my experience with having two children relatively close together, you might want to plan that your employer will suddenly need to reorganise the department and will make you redundant,' another said. 

A third added: 'It's probably not very much fun for your colleagues if they're having to cover your work. And not good for the environment.' 

Many responses to the post argued taking more maternity leave will put pressure on her colleagues and could discourage her employer from hiring women of child bearing age in the future 

Another wrote: 'It depends what your role is and how big the company is too. A huge one with hundreds of employees and you're admin - not such a problem. A small one where you're one of only three technical sales reps - much bigger problem for the company. They can't do anything about it but are likely to look less favourably on employing women of child bearing age in the future.' 

However, others argued the mother will regret not trying for a third child if she bases her decision around work. 

'One person urged the mother to be aware of her rights, saying: 'You can't make major life decisions on the basis of what people at work might think. If you resigned tomorrow and left they will carry on and won't give you a second thought. Just be aware of your work rights. Take advantage of them as needed and if you want to have a third baby, have one.'

Another said: 'You can be made redundant tomorrow. The business might be sold, management might change, your colleagues all find a better job tomorrow too. 

'It's only work. Being professional, efficient and having a good attitude is fine. Planning your own life around something you have no input or no say? It's not worth it. You don't have to justify anything.' 

A third added: 'Who cares? They pay you for your work. You're legally entitled to a year's leave. Women fought hard for you to have these rights, please use them as you'd like to. How many children you have is up to you and your husband. No one else's business.'

Other responses to the thread urged the woman to go ahead with having a third child, arguing she will regret it if her employer makes her redundant in the future

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