10 tips for returning to work after maternity leave

If you’ve recently had a new baby, the thought of returning to work after maternity leave can be incredibly daunting. Sure, you might be looking forward to gaining some independence once again but waving goodbye to those blissful mother/baby days is likely to pull on your heartstrings. That said, knowing the facts about becoming a working mother can make the transition a lot easier, so here are ten things to bear in mind:

1. Same job, same terms and conditions

Whether you found your position through a job site like CCJM or via a friend, you have the general right to return to the same role after maternity leave on the same terms and conditions. If this is not possible due to company changes you have the right to be offered a similar job on terms and conditions at least as good. Moreover, if your role no longer exists you should be given an alternative vacancy or offered redundancy pay.

2. Right to a pay rise

When you’re on maternity leave you still have the right to receive any pay rises or improvements in terms and conditions for your job. Your employer should inform you of these changes and make you aware of developments to the business.

3. Keeping in touch

It’s the duty of your employer to keep you informed about other goings on within the company too including opportunities for promotion and job vacancies. You can also work ten Keeping in Touch (KIT) days while on maternity leave without losing maternity pay or benefits or ending your leave.

4. Holidays

Your holiday entitlement will continue to build up while you’re on leave, so you can either add this to the end of your maternity leave period or take your holidays separately when you return to work. It’s worth talking to your employer, however, in case you need to use them up by a specific date.

5. Flexible working

As a parent, you’re entitled to ask for a flexible working pattern, although you must have been with your employer for at least 26 weeks to request this. While you have the right to ask for it, your employer can also refuse to offer it you should it negatively impact the performance of the company.

6. Parental leave

If you’ve completed at least one year’s service for your current employer you’re entitled to 13 weeks’ unpaid leave up to your child’s fifth birthday (or up to 18 weeks for a disabled child up to their 18th birthday).

7. Reasonable time off for emergencies

Parental leave is not the same as taking time off to deal with an emergency. If you child falls ill or your childcare arrangements go wrong at the last minute, you are allowed reasonable time off to deal with the issue.

8. Right to breastfeed

If you want to continue breastfeeding after returning to work, you have every right to do so and your employer should make allowances for you to express/feed throughout the working day. They should also provide somewhere for a breastfeeding employee to rest and this includes being able to lie down. You’ll find plenty more information regarding breastfeeding at work here.

9. You’re not alone

Feel alone? Then why not talk to other mums about their experience of returning to work after having a baby? Making friends and chatting about your issues can improve your mood and help you to feel far less afraid or alone in the workplace.

10. A quick call to the babysitter can work wonders

If you’re feeling anxious or worried about how your child is getting on while you’re at work, a quick call to the babysitter or nursery can work wonders. Your little one might have been crying when you dropped them off but there’s a high chance they would have perked up when you left, so don’t be afraid to call in now and again.

Heading back to work is not always easy, but knowing the facts and opening up to colleagues can make all the difference.