How to Return to Work After Maternity Leave

A return to work after maternity leave can be a daunting and stressful experience. Just like any big change in life, there are a lot of emotions to deal with. Here are some tips for a successful return to work after maternity leave:

Working moms are just as productive as non-parent employees

Returning to work after maternity leave is a daunting task. While maternity leave is a wonderful time to reconnect with your spouse and children, your new responsibilities may require a rethink of your daily routine. Dowling recommends tackling these changes in advance by getting the support of colleagues who have had children and are now returning to work. Getting ahead of the schedule is critical, so ask a sitter to start a week early and practice drop-offs and pick-ups.

Working moms have long had the right to return to work after maternity leave, but the decision to return to the workforce does come with special challenges. While many observers have deemed working mothers selfish, unnatural, and even dangerous, the reality is far different. In addition to their responsibilities as a parent, these women often have an aspirational nature and have dedicated years to their careers. Moreover, these women are also equally productive as their non-parent colleagues when returning to work after maternity leave.

Adaptability to return to work

Adaptability to return to work after a maternity leave can be a challenge for both the mother and her employer. During the maternity leave period, new parents are learning to care for a baby and their priorities may have changed. It may feel impossible to go back to the normal life that you had before. However, with the right skills and preparation, a working mum can successfully return to the workforce and maintain her career.

Among the most common barriers to returning to work after maternity leave is the lack of flexibility. Mothers with busy schedules may have trouble adjusting to the changes in their lives. Working mothers often find it difficult to plan their weekends. Since childcare and schedules may not coincide with the maternity leave, it is crucial to plan ahead for the first day back. If possible, it is wise to communicate with the manager about any schedule changes so that the employee can adjust accordingly.

Social support

A new mother is often thrown into a world of uncertainty when she returns to work after maternity leave. Many women find it difficult to return to the same job after spending weeks at home with their newborn. To help ease the transition, it can be helpful to gradually incorporate back-to-work days into your schedule. Working half days a week at first may be enough for a new mother to juggle her time between work and home. Free time can also help to balance the two. For example, social distancing measures such as limited store capacity may make everyday tasks like grocery shopping a longer process.

In America, workers are entitled to twelve weeks of paid leave after giving birth. This is provided if you meet certain minimum requirements, such as hours worked or company size. Even this time is not enough to recover fully, and it is often too expensive for many women to return to work after maternity leave. Moreover, many women return to work much earlier than twelve weeks. In fact, in the United States, more than a quarter of women return to work within two months of giving birth, and another ten percent re-enter the workforce after just four weeks.

Requesting flexible working

Many new mothers would like to return to work on a part-time basis and some employers are more than willing to discuss this option. Flexible working arrangements are legal and all employees with at least 26 weeks’ service are entitled to request them. The right to request flexible working is a fundamental right, and a request can only be refused for a number of legitimate business reasons. Read our guidance on how to ask for flexible working, or for help with your request.

If your employer refuses to agree to a flexible working request, you can appeal the decision using a formal grievance procedure. This is often more effective if the employer agrees to a trial period. You can then show the employer that it would be beneficial to both parties to work differently. Remember that flexible working is a change to your contract and therefore requires your employer’s agreement. Without an employer’s agreement, you can’t go back to your old working hours. If this happens, you may not be able to find a new job in the same sector.