Returning to work after maternity leave is a daunting experience for any working parent. For many, it can be filled with mixed emotions as they try to adjust to working life after the precious time spent with their newborn. Siobhan, our Head of Development and Partnerships, experienced this transition back to work after the birth of her second baby. Unfortunately, Siobhan’s previous employer didn't offer any maternity pay, so whilst the return to work was essential, the reality presented significant challenges. 

“Navigating the transition back to work after the birth of my second baby was not what I had anticipated. Balancing work and family life hasn't come as easily. It's become a cliché to talk about the challenges of being a full-time working mum, but it's a cliché for a reason. The constant push and pull between work and family responsibilities, the never-ending cleaning, organising, packing, unpacking, handling lunchboxes, wiping snotty noses, managing the financial pressures of nursery, and the feelings of worry and guilt when leaving them – can be overwhelming.”

Recognising these challenges, the Foyer Federation has introduced a new maternity policy, that reflects our Advantaged Thinking approach to working with people. It includes a number of key features such as enhanced maternity pay, flexible working arrangements, and access to additional support and resources – all designed to ensure that new parents are able to return to work feeling supported and valued.

“Upon joining the [Foyer Federation] Senior Leadership Team, one of my initial tasks was to review the charity's parental leave policies. Through extensive consultation, our small charity, which has an annual turnover of under £500k, made a courageous decision. We decided to ring-fence reserves to support new parents financially, implementing a generous advanced pay policy for all parents.”

Joel Lewis, our CEO, describes the new policy’s overarching aim is; ‘to support our highly valued team whilst they embark on their parenthood journey. We recognise that our team have full lives outside of work and this change is one way in which we aim to support them during this influential period.’  In this way, by providing enhanced maternity pay for new parents who’re working at the Foyer Federation, the policy aligns with our commitment to creating a positive and supportive workplace culture. 

“I am thrilled to see the Foyer Federation investing in the team in this way, embracing our core values and being brave, authentic and loving.” Siobhan

"I feel proud that we've gone the extra mile with this policy and followed our heart not just our head - embedding our values in a real way that makes a difference for our staff.” Joel

To create the new policy we worked with a young expert, Jodie, from our Finance and Risk Committee who did a fantastic job of providing the board with accurate figures. The board was supportive of the changes and encouraged us to invest in our team in this way. The main challenge was determining how much to improve the package beyond statutory pay whilst maintaining financial sustainability. After several open discussions and debates, we were able to find a workable solution that allowed us to ring-fence funds and implement a generous advanced pay policy for all parents.

“I fell on my feet when I found my new role here at The Foyer Federation, a charity with a mission that resonates deeply with my passions. Importantly, my role allows me to work from home, which has been a blessing. The Foyer Federation supported my request to condense my full-time hours into four days, leaving Fridays as a much-needed connection day with my kids. I am thrilled to be part of an organisation that understands the challenges faced by working parents and is committed to making a positive impact on their lives. It's inspiring to see how a small charity can take significant steps to support its team members during this critical phase of their lives.” Siobhan

The hope for our new policy is that it shows our team how valued they are by our organisation and also demonstrates to others charities that it is possible to support staff well during their maternity or paternity leave. We encourage the wider sector to consider ways they might achieve this. 

Reflection questions:

  • Does your organisation have a maternity and paternity policy in place? If so, how does it support new parents during their parenthood journey?
  • How does your organisation balance financial sustainability with providing enhanced maternity and paternity pay packages?
  • Does your organisation provide flexible working arrangements for new parents, such as working from home or condensed hours? If not, have you considered implementing such arrangements?
The Foyer Federation is registered in England and Wales under company number 2699839 at Work.Life, Core Building, 30 Brown Street, Manchester, M2 1DH. The charity is registered under charity number 1040482.
Log in | Powered by White Fuse