Back to Work after Maternity Leave

Fernanda Pinto Godoy

“I had not expected the transition back to work to be such a central part of the overall experience, but it was. There is an inherent conflict between wanting to return to work and wanting to be present for your child. Add to this that your identity, priorities, and perspectives have shifted”

Fania Stoney, GPTW Consultant.


Great practices and support for mothers returning to work are crucial to ease the transition from an already overwhelming period of life change. It is time to start having more conversations about what happens after maternity leave. 

It can become challenging and daunting for women to take maternity leave when they feel that they will be penalized for it. Organizations need to go beyond clear policies and frameworks to build trust among employees. It is essential to create a working culture that supports working mothers not only to take time away from work but also to have a smooth transition back to it.

As a result of the pandemic, many companies have implemented policy changes that can help better attract and retain working parents. It is undeniable that organizations that support maternity leave and foster a flexible working environment are more likely to stand out in a competitive labour market. Unfortunately, a recent study based on figures from the OECD Family Database ranked Ireland second worst for parental leave and family policies.


Claire McCartney a senior policy adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development says: “The way you are treated as an employee becoming a parent, will have a big impact on your loyalty and desire to stay with the organization in the longer term” 

There is certainly no quick fix for this problem. However Great Place to Work certified companies JTI, Avvio, Distilled, and Core have successfully implemented great practices that support employees before and after their maternity leave.


Keep reading to learn more about what these Great Workplaces are doing to change the future of work in Ireland!


Family Leave Policy

JTI has successfully implemented a family leave policy since January 2021, which offers a minimum of 20 weeks of fully paid parental leave, regardless of location, gender, or sexual orientation.

The policy brings a significant improvement from where JTI and the world stand today. For the primary caregivers, the benefit brings advancement in more than 60% of the JTI locations, while for the secondary caregiver, the policy brings an increase in more than 90% of the JTI locations, where the usual entitlement was a maximum of one-week paid family leave.

With their new family leave benefit, JTI aims to equalize the career opportunities for both men and women, but also the roles they play in society.


Progressive Policies

Companies like Avvio and Distilled are offering progressive policies in fertility, surrogacy, pregnancy loss, and menopause.

For instance, when Avvio learned about the situation of one of their employees and her fight seeking surrogacy as a means of becoming a mother, they implemented a surrogacy policy to ensure that her experience as an expecting mom would be just as similar as to any other member of the team.

These companies are taking the lead in understanding the important role they have in supporting their employees in their personal journeys and are reshaping the future of work.


Download our latest report and learn about what Best Workplaces in Europe do in terms of flexibility and well-being 👇 

Best Workplaces in Europe 2022 Report


Maternity Coaching

Core Ireland has successfully introduced a maternity coaching program, aimed to help and support women to adjust and transition back from maternity leave. Every female who avails of maternity leave across Core is now offered the service.

The company has focused on helping women understand what they want from their leave as well as establishing good communication practices.  Core works with women to identify short-, medium- and longer-term career goals and recognize that returning from maternity leave can introduce a renewed focus on career development but can also be emotional and challenging.

Furthermore, upon returning from maternity and adoption leave, Core offers a phased-back approach where returning parents can work two weeks at 50% and then two weeks at 70% while receiving their full salary. This allows employees to have the time they need to adjust and balance home and work life. 

The Power of Community 

People often say, "it takes a village to raise a child," but sometimes women have difficulty finding such a village. As part of its family policies, Distilled has created a Women's Network where returning employees can share experiences with other mothers who have also returned from maternity leave.

The power of community is extremely significant, especially in a time of transition. By joining a Women's Network, employees have the opportunity to nurture themselves with collective wisdom, support, and belief.


Irish companies are taking important steps to actively help female employees while implementing great practices to ease the challenges women face after maternity leave.

It is important to establish good communication practices and give women time to adapt to their new roles by focusing on initiatives that encourage women to own the process.  


“One of the best forms of support I received in a work context was choice. No assumptions were made about what I would, or wouldn’t like to be involved in. I felt part of the decision-making process and empowered to make the right decisions for me. Taking on new challenges felt good. Being busy felt good. Being able to say no felt good. Each of those elements was true in different ways, at different times. If there is one piece of advice I would give any leader – it would be to maintain involvement and choice as the status quo”

Fania Stoney, GPTW Consultant

We are proud to recognise the organisations that, not only are creating a Great Place to Work for All but are also providing support and empowering women at work.


if you would like to learn more about their stories, have a look at our report below 👇

Best Workplaces for Women 2023

Further resources about the Best Workplaces for Women: 

The importance of Paternity Leave

In addition to enhancing our understanding of these wonderful practices, we should also consider starting the conversation about paternity leave.

Providing support to working mothers also involves providing support to working fathers. When paternity leave policies are implemented, father-child bonds can be promoted, children's outcomes can be improved, and gender equity can be achieved at work and at home.

We would love to hear what your organization is doing to create a supportive workplace for families. Please share those great practices with us!  



About Great Place to Work®

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on workplace culture. We help organizations quantify their culture and produce better business results by creating a high-trust work experience for all employees. We recognise Great Place to Work-Certified™ companies and the Best Workplaces™ in more than 60 countries.

To join the thousands of companies that have committed to building high-trust company cultures that help them attract, retain and take care of their people, contact us about getting Certified today.