Only 17% of the companies asked in a survey by Regus, would hire women on return from maternity leave, which makes it very difficult for women to get out on the job market again.

“They miss a whole lot of competence this way,” says Gunilla Bäcklund, local chairwoman at the employees’ association union Unionen. 232 companies in Scandinavia were asked, and only 51% said they were willing to hire mothers. Continues Bäcklund: “A large number of women giving birth today are at an age when they only have temporary jobs, which makes it difficult to make a comeback after the maternity leave. But even those with permanent employment may have problems. As people get moved around in a company, they might have to return to a job with a lower salary.”

According to the study by Regus, most companies are afraid that the women will have more babies. There’s also the fear that many of them won’t be as flexible as they used to be and lose a lot of time by staying home with a sick child. Some 50% of the companies, however, are aware of the kinds of skills working mothers have―skills hard to find on the market.

“A working mother has the ability to multitask and handle unforeseeable problems,” says Bäcklund. “At the same time they develop skills like leadership, responsibility and empathy.”