Survey finds: Women are afraid to ask about maternity leave during job interviews. Here’s how to address this topic to avoid losing top talent

Simangele Mzizi, Fsp Business, 14 Nov. 2014

Tags: maternity leave, maternity leave benefits, maternity leave policy

We’re living in the 21st century right, women are independent and they’re breaking glass ceilings.

Surely all this means is that workplaces are more progressive and women don’t have to worry about asking for maternity leave benefits even when applying for jobs. After all, having a career doesn’t mean putting off motherhood.


A recent survey has found that women are afraid to ask about maternity leave during job interviews. They fear this will lessen their chances of getting the job.

While this survey was done overseas, chances are, the same thing is happening in South Africa and it should worry you because you could be losing top talent.

Read on to discover the details of this survey and how to address the issue so your company doesn’t suffer.

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Here are the details of the study that found women are afraid to ask about maternity leave during job interviews

According to, the survey by company reviews site Glassdoor found that 78% of women wouldn’t ask about maternity benefits in a job interview for fear of jeopardising their chances.
Just over half of those thought employers would jump to the conclusion they were already pregnant if they ventured the question.
32% of the 1,000 women polled (half of whom have already taken maternity leave, half of whom want to in the future) got information on maternity benefits when they started their current job, and 41% felt uncomfortable about asking for it. A similar proportion said that if they were starting a new job they would only ask about maternity leave if they were actually pregnant.
Another shocking finding in the survey is that some working mothers have the perception that asking about maternity leave would get them fired.
If you’re thinking, “surely, it’s not my problem if candidates don’t ask about maternity leave”, you’re wrong because this affects your company.

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If potential employees are afraid to ask about maternity leave, your company could suffer

Nowadays, employees are looking for more than just a paycheck at the end of the month.
According to, when looking for jobs, employees are looking for employers who have the empathy (and policies) to ensure personal responsibilities don’t always take a back seat to professional duties.
So, while a potential candidate may be afraid to ask about maternity leave benefits, she might do her own research and opt for a company that’s transparent about maternity leave benefits. When that happens, you’ll lose someone who could have added value to your company. She could go to another company or she could be discouraged to further her career.
So what’s the solution?

Have a maternity leave policy and make sure current and potential candidates know about it

You must have a maternity leave policy in place and make sure it’s well known.

You have to make it clear that your company cares about the well-being of its employees.
To ensure potential candidates know about the policy, you can be proactive and mention during the interview that you have good policies like your maternity leave policy.
In addition, you can make it clear on your company’s website that you’re a progressive employer who doesn’t discriminate and who supports career growth and family life.
As explains, while pregnancy related discrimination is illegal, the fear of it is clearly still alive and well for many women.
“Unless employers start being more supportive of working mothers – both in word and action – these kind of beliefs risk perpetuating the idea that motherhood and a career don’t go together. And that could hold a whole lot of talented women back.” Don’t take that risk, address this topic to avoid losing top talent.
PS: For more information on maternity leave, check out Your Maternity Leave Solution.

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