Advice For Going Back To Work After Maternity Leave
Going back to work after maternity leave can be a daunting prospect. Mentally, childbirth can be a very challenging period for the mother and the idea of working again may not feel as appealing as it did when you left to have your baby. There can be numerous reasons for that; fear about leaving your baby, self-consciousness over your ability to do your job or concern about relationships at work and how difficult it will be to re-build them. You may simply have got quite used to not having to get up for work!
But while time flies and you can’t believe the time has come, you need to get yourself prepared, understand what to expect when you go back to work and start a dialogue with your employer as you countdown to the big day. Stepping from a world of barely getting dressed all day, coffee mornings, play dates and nursery rhymes is hard to adjust to, but there is some key advice to help you make that transition:
Keep in touch
It is advisable to keep contact with work colleagues throughout your maternity leave, so you don’t feel alienated from your workplace. If you’re lucky, you might have good friends at work and you would do this anyway, but the odd phone call, text or social media message can help you maintain some connection with the workplace and make it easier to step back into.
Speak with your employer
You should maintain a dialogue with your employer to discuss changes, new projects or new people, and in the run-up to returning to work you should discuss a realistic schedule, which could include flexible or part-time hours. Try and work out a phased return of maybe three days per week, so you are not diving straight into a full-on work routine. That can be mentally and physically exhausting and not good for anyone. You can also arrange to do single days in the run-up to returning to work so that you can be re-introduced to the workplace step-by-step, and this also applies to getting your child comfortable with new childcare arrangements. However, remember there is no automatic right to part time or flexible working on your return.
Prepare your routine
Practice getting up with your alarm clock and work out how long it will take to get you and the baby ready. Draw up contingency plans for if the baby is sick or you are delayed by something.
Look the part
You want to create the impression that you are back and can do your job as well as before. So show you mean business with a makeover and some new outfits. Psychologically, looking great will boost your confidence and give a positive outlook when colleagues may expect you to return looking tired and unfashionable.
It will be natural to want to talk about your new baby all the time and to show off with photos, but don’t overdo it. Show you are 100% committed and that colleagues should take you seriously by being professional and getting on with the job first and foremost. There will be plenty of baby talk opportunities at the right time.
Know your rights
Unfortunately some women do encounter discrimination when they return to work, even in a mild form where colleagues behave differently or you don’t feel you have their respect anymore. You should make sure you understand what you are entitled to, so you can assess whether you are being treated fairly when you return to work.
You have the right to return to the same job as before with the same terms and conditions. If this is not practical – for an agreed reason – you have the right to be offered a similar role with terms and conditions at least as good as previously.
If your role has been made redundant you should be offered a suitable alternative role. If there isn’t one, you should be offered redundancy pay. If the Redundancy arises whilst you are on maternity leave then you have a right to be offered the alternative role in preference to other colleagues not on maternity leave.
You should accrue holiday pay as normal whilst on maternity leave and you should also receive any standard pay rises that have occurred whilst you were off.
If you feel you are being discriminated against or treated unfairly because of your new status as a mother you should contact your Human Resources Department and seek talks with your employer. If this does not resolve anything you should contact us on 0113 284 5023, or alternatively email@example.com.
We can assess your situation and advise on what options you have open to you.