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Published: 27 May 2021

British Army – Joint Winner 2021, Best for Mothers

In 2020 the British Army reviewed and updated its commitment to gender equality by publishing a revised 10-year plan to increase the representation, retention and progression of women.

It is committed to achieving a 72% increase in the number of women in the organisation. Recently the Board has endorsed the creation of a dedicated post to support the women’s network.

Service life involves moving around the country and uprooting families at short notice. Alongside a Parents’ Network, a Breastfeeding Network was launched in June 2020 to support mothers who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The network offers essential assistance to mothers through their breastfeeding journey from start to finish by offering peer support, advice and information.

A maternity and breastfeeding passport launched in 2020 details the legal requirements a mother can expect at work, such as a private space to express, a fridge for milk storage and information on the process of returning to work.

The British Army offer 52 weeks maternity leave; 26 weeks of this is on full pay if the person has served for 12 months. More than 97% of women taking maternity leave returned to work in 2018, compared to 93% in 2017. After taking maternity leave, 58% are still in the organisation five years later, compared to 48% in 2014. This shows a continuing upward trend in retention. Other types of leave that are available to mothers include call forward of leave, special unpaid leave, and enhanced leave.

Applications for Shared Parental Leave have increased, and the average time people take has risen from 10 weeks to 21 weeks. For the first time, a staff member was able to breastfeed during initial training as her husband bubbled with the group. He looked after the baby while she was training, allowing her to breastfeed during breaks.

The British Army offers everyday flexibility with adjustable start and finish times, remote working and adaptable working patterns.

The Flexible Working Policy was updated to respond to Covid-19 and create a formal shift in culture. For an organisation with 24/7 readiness requirements, this is a significant change in how people’s careers are managed, which has been strikingly effective for supporting mothers.

Find out what the judges had to say about the winners of the Best for Mothers Award 2021.