Are you Pregnant and are Thinking About Your Maternity Leave?
The start of maternity leave should be exciting for you given the impending birth of your baby; however, many women worry about this and about their return to work. Here are my top tips for managing your maternity leave before you leave:
Do You Know What You are Going to be Paid?
Employers should have a maternity leave policy and/or provide you with details of statutory maternity pay and whether you are to receive any contractual maternity pay over and above this. Larger companies tend to pay an enhanced package but watch out as sometimes there is a clawback if you do not return to work (for example, if you resign) or you do not return to work for a minimum period. Usually redundancy is carved out of the clawback.
Workload and Handover
Do you know what is going to happen? When I worked inhouse, I wrote my own handover notes and helped organise it so I felt more in control. If you have this choice then great but if not, discuss whether maternity cover is to be recruited and if there is going to be an overlap between you and the new temporary recruit? If it has been decided no specific maternity cover is required, you should ensure that you know how the work will be dealt with split up (so you know how to get it back). Is your line manager up to speed on this? The issue with dividing your work up between a few people in the organisation might lead to your role being made redundant in the future.
- Annual leave (current holiday year). If you have annual leave left for the current holiday year, you might decide to take it before starting your maternity leave. In most cases I deal with, this seems the norm. Sometimes, you do not have the opportunity to take it all, if you are ill, for example. The company should carry it forward for you.
- Annual leave (accrual during maternity leave). I would advise to deal with holiday accruing prior to maternity leave and during maternity leave separately to avoid any confusion. Often women want to extend their leave and use up most of their accrued holiday before returning. At this time, you should then be back to your normal salary.
Keeping In Contact on Your Maternity Leave
- Keeping in contact. How do you want to keep in contact and how often? Think about whether you want to receive any regular external or internal publications while you are away. For example, copies of industry publications, internal company vacancy lists, company newsletters or bulletins, invitations to work social events. It is useful to stay in contact to ensure that no organisational changes are made without your knowledge. You should be consulted before there are any proposed changes. If you are not, then this is detrimental treatment and you have a claim for injury to feelings.
Keeping In Touch Days
- Keeping in Touch days (KIT) You can agree with your employer to work for up to 10 days during your maternity leave to help you stay in touch with your workplace. Ask how much is to be paid for KIT days. Although these are not compulsory, ask about any specific opportunities which may be coming up and/or which may be of use or interest to you. For example, team or company meetings or away days, conferences, training sessions, or specific client work.
Shared Parental Leave
- Shared parental leave: You might want to consider this if your partner’s benefits are attractive. If you are asked about this don’t worry as nothing at that stage will be binding.
Arrangements for Returning To Work after Your Maternity Leave
- Arrangements for return to work: You should be contacted before you are due to return to work and have a chat about your planned arrangements. For example, do you want to return on a part time basis?
Flexible Working Requests
- Flexible working requests: These should be made in writing . You should be aware that if you wish to make any request, you will need to do so well in advance of your return to work (say, by at least two months) if you want any new arrangement to take effect immediately on your return. Try to anticipate what approach the company will take and deal with these in the application letter. The more you tackle the difficult issues and provide the solutions, the easier it will be for them to say yes.
- Redundancy during maternity leave. In law, it is possible for an employer to make your job role redundant during maternity leave but you should come top of the pile re other suitable available jobs in the organisation. This is an area fraught with difficulty and where I would highly recommend that you seek advice given your rights in this situation.
I am always happy to have a chat about any issues that you face during your maternity leave. It should be a happy time and not one where you spend time worrying about your job. Please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 89477997