If you’re a mum-to-be and in work its hard to know how to navigate the treacherous waters of Maternity leave. There are so many things that need to be in order before the baby comes and that’s just at home! As a working mum you’ll want to make sure that you make the most of your leave, not just as a way to prepare for your impending parenthood but also to ensure that it is a ‘successful’ leave for your employer as well. That’s why we here at LittleBird decided to put together a few pointers on just how to do that.
When to tell your boss – when to tell your boss about your pregnancy is a careful balance but it is completely up to you. Health and Safety will dictate that you are protected from long hours and extensive travel. However that might be counted against you if you are up for a promotion of some kind. All we can say is that if there is a chance of promotion always accept it before you say that you are pregnant as the company is unable to withdraw once an offer has been made.
Bonuses – Pregnancy leave is calculated at 90% of average earnings, taken 15 weeks before your expected confinement date. If you can then plan you leave around your Christmas bonus etc. and your maternity pay will increase.
Be discreet about illness – In the month before you take your leave be careful about what you attribute your sick leave to. If they are pregnancy related illnesses your employer has the right to start your leave early meaning that you will lose time at the end of your leave.
Hire a freelancer – if your company can swing it hiring a temp to cover your duties during your pregnancy is the best way to create a smooth transition. Your colleague will be less likely (even subconsciously) to resent you leave and more likely to celebrate your extending family. Most of the time to cover someone’s leave their responsibilities are divvied up among colleagues resulting in multiple points of contact for your turnover and return making the transition period disjoined and overly complicated.
Spend 2 weeks (if possible) with your temp shadowing you pre and post leave – whoever it is that has been brought in to cover your leave should be made part of the team and upon your return the overlap period is a great opportunity to work part time and transition back slowly. Perfect for this sleep deprived period.
Be Prepared – prepare a detailed yet concise turnover report with all contacts, deadlines and other important info well ahead of time. You should also get your cover to prepare a turnover report for your return.
Use your KIT days to your advantage – Have your fill-in ping you ever month or so to keep you posted on company updates and big wins. You will feel more connected to the team while avoiding the nitty-gritty details and stress of smaller challenges. You can also take advantage of the wonder that is e-mail and read it at your leisure, these updates are because you want them not because you have to be in contact. However the government allows up to 10 Keeping in Touch days during your pregnancy leave to come into the office. If you feel like you can’t be there for the whole day then you don’t need to be! If you arrange with your boss beforehand to come in for an hour on each of your KIT days to talk through a project then you will still get the whole day’s pay.
Make the most of Holiday – Save your paid holiday and tag it on to the end of your leave if you want an extended leave. Or you could use your accrued holiday entitlement to go temporarily part-time to ease you back into work, as long as your company policy allows you to.
Negotiate flexible working – You have the right to request flexible working. However you should start the negotiation process at least 4 months before you intend to go back to work. Send a formal letter laying out how you want flexible working to be handled. Your employer must arrange a meeting within 28 days and after the meeting they only have 14 days to make a decision. Don’t be satisfied with a brush off, your boss has to give you a justified reason for refusing.
Take control of your first day back – Only 10% of women surveyed by the NCT had a re-introduction on their first day back, Make sure you get all the new door codes and passwords so you can enter seamlessly on your first day and avoid the feeling that you no longer belong.
Welcome the “newness” of your Job – Rather than imagining your fill-in as a threat to your job learn from them instead. Did they implement a new process that your team loves? Be open to it and all the changes this period will bring.
Keep Baby talk to a minimum – Talk about how keen you are to get back to work and not how you’re missing your baby. Keep everything work focused to prevent the impression that you are less committed.
Be confident! – You’re now a working mum, own it!