How can new moms negotiate part-time work or working from home with their current employer?
Each company has its own processes for women coming back from their maternity leave. And generally companies tend to follow these guidelines closely. I would suggest keeping in close touch with your managers and colleagues throughout your maternity leave. In the UK, for instance, companies have a provision for Keep In Touch days (KIT) when a woman can come into the office to either attend an important meeting, training or just to say hello to her team and introduce her new baby. Make sure you use as many of these days as possible as they are fully paid by the government so they are useful in financial terms too.
But more importantly, they are a great way to keep up to date with all the latest developments in your workplace. A few months before you are due to return to work, book a meeting with your HR department to discuss the date of return and the capacity you will be returning in. Prior to the meeting, you would normally be required to fill out a form indicating whether you would like to work part-time and how many days. The employer is not obliged to grant their consent to whatever you have proposed but they are obliged to consider it seriously (you can find additional information on this website: http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/wales/work_w/work_time_off_work_e/maternity_leave.htm). So I suggest you set out the maximum amount of days you would like to work while also considering early/later starts and early/later finishes to provide your employer with as many options as possible.
Perhaps, you could negotiate working full-time for three or four days plus one day from home. Normally, employers are more relaxed about their employees working from home on Fridays. Whichever path you wish to discuss with your employer, avoid becoming aggressive or demanding, state your wishes clearly and provide all relevant evidence. You can also re-visit the situation after a few months to see whether it’s working or needs to be amended.
When is it time to start thinking about a career change?
I believe when a woman is on maternity leave, it provides her with a great opportunity to reconsider her career path in line with your ideal work-life balance. A number of women start their own businesses while on maternity leave, subsequently resigning from their jobs (as I eventually decided to do). Others decide to change company within the same industry and some choose to stay at home to care for their children full-time. Generally, it all depends on your own situation and your plans for the future regarding your career and family life. The costs of childcare can also of course be a decisive factor. However, even if you do return to your existing job, you should also keep an open mind about whether this is still the right place for you, or whether your interests and aspirations have changed. Some women unfortunately find that after having returned to your workplace after maternity leave, a lot has changed and although technically your responsibilities stayed the same, you are now considered a second rate employee due to the fact that you need to leave early and work from home.
How can new mums be sure they’re getting the most out of maternity leave?
Maternity leave is there for you to care for your child and to enjoy your motherhood. So this is the primary goal. But it is worth taking the time to consider and note down what you want to achieve in your career after you children are a bit more grown up – prepare a career plan so to speak. If you want to set up on your own, carry out an audit of your current skills and passions and undertake some market research in the industry you would like to explore.
A number of women take up short-term course to develop their skills in a certain area – some even go as far as registering for a degree or Master’s. The opportunities are endless – all depends on what you want and how much time you are prepared to invest in achieving it.
How can you convey to your boss that you’ll still be a valuable employee, even with a new baby at home?
A lot of it is about your pre-baby career track record. If you were one of the top performers for instance, your boss will be more willing to believe you will continue in the same vein. But the main indicator of a valuable employee is their actual performance. So do your best when you return to work and aim to take up some more tasks and responsibilities – depending on your time of course.
If you would like any assistance and coaching on getting back to work after maternity leave and all issues related to this matter, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me on email@example.com