Going back into the workplace after maternity leave can be tough.
In the last nine months or so your world has just been turned upside down; you are sleep deprived, warm coffee deprived, often feel like a burst couch and yet just starting to also believe that you might just be getting to grips with this new role of motherhood… Just in time to turn it upside down again as you move into the next rollercoaster role of ‘master juggler’ in your return to work as a new mum.
So what might help you in your return to the workplace after maternity leave? We’d like to suggest 8 tips as you prepare for returning to work.
- Be honest with yourself, work out your priorities and make peace with them. Being a working women and the meaning of motherhood does not have a universal definition and everyone is different.
- Once you have identified what you think you need and want on your return to work, start discussions on any changes to your hours of work or pattern with your employer at the earliest opportunity.
- Keep track of when your maternity leave (ordinary and additional) ends. You have different rights depending on your return to work date. Also your statutory pay is not aligned with either. You can use the HR Solver maternity calculator to help you with this.
- Also keep your mind open and flexible to your employers’ alternatives. Ideally try and secure a ‘phased return to work’ with your employer. This way you can increase your hours gradually to support you and your baby in the transition, this is particularly helpful if your plan is to go back full time or nearly full time.
- A lot of women report anxiety and fear of returning to work, naturally worried about how their child will adapt to nursery or a new routine, concerned that they will spend all day thinking about how their baby is. Speak to other mothers who have already gone through this. Most will alleviate fears and discuss coping mechanisms that they put in place. Many will happily report that they enjoy their days at work; hot drinks, better appreciation of baby when they get back and the fact they enjoy the different challenges that work brings.
- All employers are required to offer KIT days, ‘Keeping in Touch’ days, where women on maternity leave can go back into the workplace for up to 10 days during their maternity leave and get paid for this. The outcome being they get caught up on any changes and updates as well as contributing meaningfully. This can be a great way to test out your childcare arrangements; is your mother-in-law really able to make it to your house for 7.30am to let you leave for work? Can your partner really manage to pick up from the nursey at 6pm on a Wednesday?
- If you are in a professional field, read up… Look at your professional body’s website, get the magazine, scroll social media feeds. Inevitably you have put CPD aside in recent months, but to get you back up to speed quickly and re-ignite your passion and excitement about going back to work this is an excellent and easy activity.
- Meet with colleagues for a coffee prior to your return to catch up. This can also help in your confidence with re-establishing work relationships. Sometimes it can be quite scary to go back into the work environment after absence. New motherhood can be mentally tough and you may have found you have lost some self-confidence in interacting with people. Most colleagues will be delighted to have a cuppa or some brunch with you before you return to help you alleviate your fears.
- Chat openly to your nearest and dearest. Discuss your fears so that partners and parents know that this is a big deal for you. They will then hopefully be able offer greater support or suggest alternatives to the plan for your return.
- For many mums returning to work is a big step. Even more so, if you had a difficult pregnancy and this gave you issues in the workplace before you went on maternity leave such as absence and/or your performance of tasks. If you anticipate issues on your return or there are some things that you feel are still not resolved then you may choose to address these in the first instance before your return. If you need help with this HR Solver is available to offer advice.
You can chat to our HR Gurus today. #hrsolver #returntowork #maternityleave #newmum #workingmother #pregnancy #pregnancyrelatedillness