Mary Portas: Mothers should get full pay while off on maternity leave

Speaking at the fifth annual Fortune Most Powerful Woman International Summit, held in London, Ms Portas, said: “I genuinely believe we need to sort out maternity. I think you should be paid fully. I’ve just done it with two of our directors, I’ve just paid them [in full], and you see the love that comes back. They come in with a baby under their arm, breastfeeding, they hold meetings – you don’t put a time scale on this.”

Ms Portas, who was made the government’s shops tsar in 2011, said it is holding back too many women from having children.

She said: “I do think it’s the one biggest thing that stops women from taking that big leap and it shouldn’t do, because the most important thing, that so many of us do, is have children.

“I would absolutely say to businesses, pay them while they’re off, and then they’ll have to work out how, and where, support gets given at home.”