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Going back to work after Maternity Leave

I was recently watching a series of Workin' Moms a must watch for you fantastic mummy's out there! I am not the usual chick flick kind of person more of a Tony Robbins motivational individual, but last weekend I thought I would have some me time. I logged on to Netflix as you do, and this is when I saw a title that caught my eye called Workin' Moms and trust me it was a great laugh, and this is when I got inspired to write this blog!

The return to work after bringing your beautiful bundle-of-joy into the world is a huge step. Without question, you will have been cosied up over the past few months together and the outside world might seem a million miles away. Your baby has come first for a while now, but it has probably come to the time when you must venture out of your bubble and return to the working world. Juggling a job, childcare and all your other responsibilities can be an overwhelming challenge.

It is important to remember that you are not on your own. Lots of mums feel the pressure at this time of transition.  However, when you share stories with other mums, you realise that there are some effective ways to help you negotiate the way forward. By implementing some simple tips on how to arrange your family and your work commitments, it can help to get you through the days to come. Every mum is different but by creating new daily routines you will find that, in time, it will become second nature to fit everything into your day.

The key things you might want to concentrate on as you prepare to return to your employment are:

Conversations

Do not be shy about talking to other parents about how they are making their way through the challenges. The advice you absorb from others going through the same thing can be a priceless support network.

Remember your entitlements, 52 weeks off work after having a baby is your allotted time, although, for many new mums, this is something that they cannot afford to do. If you decide to take Ordinary Maternity Leave and return to work after 26 weeks, you should tell your employer at least eight weeks’ before you intend to return.

Childcare

To lessen your worries, it is essential to get trustworthy childcare in place. Whether you are lucky enough to have family members on hand to help, or you need to find a friendly and reliable childminder or nursery, childcare has to be consistent and safe. It should be an opportunity for your child to develop. Both you and your baby need to be happy.

Groundwork

Preparation is the key. The freezer may become your best friend as cooking in advance will ultimately save you time. Lasagnes, curries, pies – all types of meals can be prepared in advance. Start your day with the slow cooker and cook family meals that are ready and waiting for you after a long hard day at work.

Travel

It will take longer post-baby to get anywhere that you want to go. Pre-packing the car with essentials, mapping out quicker routes, starting out earlier- these are just some of the things you might want to consider doing to make your journeys less stressful. Flexible working times may be a possibility if you talk to your employer. Do not be afraid to ask.

What to do if you are not ready to return to work?

Once maternity leave has ended it is a requirement that you return to your job or you will lose your position. It can be a difficult decision for some mums to make so if you are requiring more time off before you go back to work you can:

Enquire about the possibility of been granted extra time off. If this is a possibility, make certain that you get this in writing, as an insurance that you will still be able to return to your job.

You can request annual leave directly after your maternity leave ends and this might be more than you think. You may have time due to you as holiday accumulates even while you have been on leave.

You could ask about taking unpaid parental leave. Understanding employers sometimes offer you this option but you must give them 21 days’ notice.

Shared Parental Leave is also an option if you are not ready to return to work. If either parent is entitled to this type of leave, you need to provide eight weeks’ notice to your respective employer.

Choosing not to return to work

If you ultimately elect not to go back to your former workplace, you will need to consult your existing employment contract for further details. You need to find out what length of notice you need to give. It must be at least 1 week if there is no time frame in your contract. You will not be required to repay any statutory maternity pay that you have had previously.

Keeping your options open

It is good sense to tell your employer that you intend to return to work, then you always have the option to do just that. Returning to work after having a baby can be an emotional time, so making sure that you look after yourself and your financial future is important.

Lots of mums return to work and then realise that they no longer want to continue to work. Many things can result in this decision - It might not be useful financially, childcare costs may outweigh wages, or you could simply find it too hard to leave your baby. It is your decision on what happens next, which will to some extent depend upon whether you can afford to be a stay-at-home parent.

It is a good idea to give yourself time to try and settle back into your role before you make any big decisions. If you return and feel it is not going to work out for you, or your baby, then you are able to leave your job in the usual way.

Other possibilities

It might be that you do not want to give up the job completely and so you might consider requesting flexible working to fit better into your family life. Flexible working consists of a number of alternate working possibilities such as job sharing, working from home, working part-time or staggering your working times. If you wish to follow this route you have to have worked in your existing role for at least 26 weeks which includes your maternity leave. There is, of course, no guarantee that your employer will grant you flexible working, but you do have the right to ask for it. If your employer agrees to flexible working, bear in mind that it may take up to 14 weeks for the new arrangement to be implemented.

About the author

Bev Parekh

A real recruitment professional that knows how to make things happen, Bev is driven and professional. Nicknamed “The Perfect Connector”, Bev loves sharing her expertise through blogs, vlogs and networking. She is also well regarded for the culinary delights that she often treats us to in the office – it’s worth popping in on the off-chance!