Mothers feel ‘shoved aside’ in the workplace, Nick Clegg has said, as a survey found three quarters thought their careers had stalled since having children.
The Deputy Prime Minister warned the whole economy missed out when mothers returning from maternity leave were side-lined.
The Liberal Democrats have pushed for the Coalition to adopt a shared parental leave policy, allowing fathers to take some of the later months of leave from the mother to care for children.
But a Mumsnet survey found that 60 per cent of mothers felt less employable since having a child.
Three quarters said it was harder to progress in their career.
During pregnancy, nearly half (47 per cent) said they were made to feel guilty while one in four (26 per cent) felt their job was under threat.
More than one in three (37 per cent) felt ignored when it came to career progression.
He added: ‘Modern families come in every thinkable shape and size. In many cases mothers want to work and fathers want to spend more time at home. We need to dramatically update our working practices to accommodate these realities, helping families juggle their lives as they see fit.
Businesses have warned however that the plans could spark chaos, particularly as the Lib Dems wanted each parent to be able to dip in and out of work throughout the parental leave entitlement.
Mr Clegg praised the ‘many employers’ who understood the importance to retain the best staff through a better balance of work and home.
Businesses that were regarded as family-friendly included Barclays, McDonald’s, TalkTalk, BT, Pizza Express, Matalan and the National Trust among others.
Justine Roberts, Mumsnet CEO, said: ‘While we have legislation designed to protect women against discrimination in the workplace it’s clear that in many cases companies are simply not following the rules.
She added: ‘Our survey reveals how important the culture created at work is. As members of our family friendly programme attest supporting women on their return to work improves retention rates and ultimately adds value to a company.
On returning to work, a quarter of mothers felt their bosses were not supportive.
Nearly half (46 per cent) said they were made to feel guilty for leaving work on time to collect their children.
Eight out of ten wanted there to be a cultural change to reduce discrimination around maternity leave with over half (56 per cent) saying more legislation was needed.
Another said her job was given to someone else when she was on maternity leave and she did not find out until she had a return to work interview.
The single most popular policy mothers wanted employers to adopt was flexible working with 28 per cent favouring this.
Next most popular was emergency childcare provision, job shares and back to work programmes.
The survey was carried out between 1 and 7 November and involved 1029 Mumsnet users.