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A new study published today shows that changes to maternity legislation, introduced from 1st April 2007, are resulting in an increased reluctance to employ women, particularly among small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The independent research, commissioned by Citrix Online, a division of Citrix Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS) surprisingly reveals that 53% of employers believe the new regulations are making some managers think twice about recruiting women.

The Citrix Online survey also uncovered widespread ignorance about the new maternity legislation, with 34% of SMBs unaware of the changes. These changes include the extension of statutory maternity pay from six to nine months and the removal of qualifying criteria so that all mothers are now entitled to 12 months maternity leave, regardless of how long they have been employed in their position.
The new regulations are the latest in a series of family-friendly initiatives introduced by the government since 2003 to help employees balance work and family responsibilities. According to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, the initiatives have improved employee retention rates, with fewer women now changing employers after they return to work from maternity leave. Despite this, 30% of employers in the Citrix Online survey thought it would be harder to retain talented women in the workforce and a further 26% believe the latest changes would have a commercially negative impact.

On the positive side, 72% of respondents felt that the new regulations will cause the more progressive companies to adopt additional flexible working practices to help working mothers manage the demands of work and family. Currently, 78% of employers allow staff to take a day’s holiday at very short notice and 64% offer the option to adjust start and finish time. However, just 18% offer formal flexitime and only 11% operate job sharing initiatives, according to the Citrix Online research.

One of the key ways companies can support working mothers is by providing them with technology that allows them to work from home as if they were in the office. Yet, the research shows only 43% of SMBs have any technologies in place to support home working, compared to 76% of bigger companies.

“In spite of the government’s best efforts to encourage employers to provide a family-work balance, our research has shown that attitudes, particularly amongst SMBs, have been slow to change,” commented Simon Presswell, MD, EMEA, Citrix Online. “There is a preconception that hiring women can be detrimental to a business, but the opposite is true. A company that supports women in maternity leave and encourages them to work flexibly upon returning to work will benefit from a more highly motivated and loyal staff, with lower levels of absenteeism. Moreover, a recent study published by The Women and Work Commission asserts that if women’s participation in the labour market is increased, it could be worth up to £23 billion, or 2.0%, of GDP.”

Denise Tyler, Editor, Mother@Work, added: “The changes to the maternity legislation have been designed to help both women and employers. Statutory maternity pay is fully funded by the government and businesses must recognise that giving flexibility to working parents will be rewarded with commitment and loyalty, which will help retain the talents of women within the workforce and save time and money on recruitment and training.”

“By adopting progressive flexible-working policies, companies can make it easier for new mothers to return to work and therefore help reduce this loss of talent from their workforce. The latest generation of SaaS remote access products such as GoToMyPC® and GoToMeeting®, make it incredibly easy for employees to work from home as if they were in the office. For employers, no upfront investment in technology or IT expertise is required and for working parents, the ability to use their home PC to work on a regular or ad-hoc basis helps to accommodate the additional pressures of being a parent.” concluded Presswell.

Notes to Editors :

Methodology

The study is based on 202 interviews taken by an independent research house in April-May 2007 with Heads of HR in a representative cross-section of British businesses. In smaller companies, where there was no specialist HR/Personnel department, interviews were taken with the Managing Director. The study covered private sector companies only and did not cover the public and not-for-profit sector. Sole traders were excluded but apart from this companies of all sizes, from the very smallest to the very largest, were eligible for interview.

*SMB: A definition

Our survey follows the European Union definition of a small to medium sized business (SMB) as a legally independent company with no more than 500 employees. According to the UK government’s Small Business Statistical Analysis Unit, there are an estimated 4.3 million SMBs in the UK, representing 99% of all UK businesses and accounting for half of the UK's turnover and employment.

About Citrix Online

Citrix Online, a division of Citrix Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS), is a leading provider of easy-to-use, on-demand applications for remote desktop access, Web conferencing and collaboration. Its award-winning services, which are used by more than 22,000 businesses and hundreds of thousands of individual subscribers, include: Citrix® GoToMyPC for remote PC access; Citrix® GoToAssist™ for live remote support; Citrix® GoToMeeting® for online meetings; and Citrix® GoToWebinar™ for do-it-yourself Web events. Based in Santa Barbara, California, Citrix Online has offices around the world.

For more information, please visit www.citrixonline.com.

About Citrix

Citrix Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq:CTXS) is the global leader and the most trusted name in application delivery infrastructure. More than 200,000 organizations worldwide rely on Citrix to deliver any application to users anywhere with the best performance, highest security and lowest cost. Citrix customers include 100% of the Fortune 100 companies and 98% of the Fortune Global 500, as well as hundreds of thousands of small businesses and prosumers. Citrix has approximately 6,200 channel and alliance partners in more than 100 countries. Annual revenue in 2006 was $1.1 billion.

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