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D Scott Angle
D Scott Angle
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"Return to Work" Bonuses Used to Lure New Mothers Back into Cubicles [video]

Apr. 20, 2012 5:31 am

More and more women realise that working from home, whether starting their own business or otherwise, can be the best option following maternity leave. With the ability to balance family and work - on her own terms - being so attractive, companies feel threatened by the loss of many of their best people. If an effort to combat this show of independence, some companies are resorting to 'return to work bonuses' to lure women back to the cubicles. Bonnie Kavoussi (The Huffington Post) highlights the situation for us:

One company is rewarding the new mothers on its staff for coming back to work after maternity leave.

Insurance Australia Group (IAG), one of Australia's largest companies, announced on Monday that it will double the salaries of new mothers during their first six weeks back from maternity leave, according to several news outlets. That is on top of 14 weeks of paid maternity leave. The "welcome back to work" payment is meant to 'incentivize new mothers to stay with the company.

The welcome-back bonus is rare in Australia but common in Europe, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

A mom bonus is virtually unheard of in the U.S., where federal law does give women and other caretakers at some companies 12 weeks unpaid leave through the Family Medical Leave Act. Paid leave is not required by law and is granted only by some employers. Young American women who have children earn 7 percent less than childless women largely because they end up accumulating less experience and seniority, according to the American Sociological Review.

"We were finding that some women after having a child were dropping out of the system, which is not want we want," said Mike Wilkins, CEO of IAG, according to the Australian. "We found that women who were going on maternity leave were saying 'It's difficult for me to come back or if I do come back it's quite difficult to be there', and we want to make sure that we attract and retain the best people."

Wilkins said that the bonus is cost-effective because it is cheaper than recruiting and training new staffers, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, or Australia's ABC News. IAG aims to have one-third of its senior managers be women by 2015, according to ABC.

More than half of IAG's 10,000 employees are women, and 500 to 600 IAG employees go on maternity leave every year, according to the International Business Times.

Bonnie Kavoussi is an economics reporter at The Huffington Post. She has written for the Boston Globe, the New York Observer, and the San Antonio Express-News. She is a graduate of Harvard University, where she studied economics, international economic history, and the history of economic thought. She is based in New York. Bonnie can be reached at, and she can be followed on Twitter at @bkavoussi.

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