Reference: FOI-2023-1685

You asked

Under Freedom of Information, I would be grateful if you could provide data on the following:

  • Number of women in England and Wales returning to full time or part time work within a year of taking maternity leave in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022.  Please breakdown per year.
  • Number of women in England and Wales returning to full time after maternity leave, but left within: a) one year b) two years in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022.  Please break down per year and per years from leaving.

We said

Thank you for your queries regarding women's return to work after maternity leave. 

Unfortunately, we don't collect information that can answer your specific questions. Our surveys don't collect information on a full employment history. For example, we wouldn't know whether someone currently with a young child was previously on a period of maternity leave, or a career break or otherwise. We also do not hold information that would tell us whether women have subsequently left work after returning from a period of maternity leave. 

However, we do publish information on the employment status of both men and women, broken down by the age of their youngest child. The link will take you to the latest version of this table, but information for previous periods can be accessed by following the link to previous version of the data. The earliest version available is for the period January to March 2018. 

Figures for the latest period show that in the UK approximately 69% of women are in employment with a dependent child aged 0 to 2 years. This will include some women who will be counted as in employment while still on maternity leave. This compares with 72% of all women aged 16 to 64 years being in employment.