Maternity leave can be paradise for the young mum. Yes, it’s stressful, and tiring, and demanding, but for many it represents a constant reminder that they have achieved their ultimate aim in life.
But all good things must come to an end, and unfortunately a decision must be made in the first year of the infant’s life, by one or both of the parents: return to work, find another job (click here for ideas) or find another arrangement to look after your baby.
Maternity leave can be taken from any time in or after the 11th week before your baby is due, and some women are happy to leave at that point and return to work earlier. Maternity leave lasts for a year and a mum will still be eligible for the benefits she would receive if she were physically at the workplace, such as a pay rise or holiday.
Paternity leave is either one or two weeks, although the rules will change from April 4, 2015 if both parents are eligible for Shared Paternal Leave. If accepted, parents will be able to â€˜share’ the leave â€“ this guidance at Gov.uk reveals the criteria.
The transition back to work can be physically and psychologically demanding. You are probably still experiencing a reduction in sleep, the rigours of feeding/changing, and chasing after a crawling little creature (or creatures). So to now go back into a sedentary job will seem strange, while a job that requires exertion might seem extremely tough. In addition, if you have opted not to return to your old workplace, then you will face the strain of jobseeking and the interview process.
The returning worker will have to get back into the swing of things quickly; any new customers, routines, working practices and co-workers established in the preceding year will need to be quickly assimilated. According to research from Proctor and Gamble, mums can take up to four months to regain their confidence when they return to work.
If you’re going back to your old workplace it therefore makes sense to keep tabs on what’s been going on while you were away, through friends and colleagues. Visit for at least a few days prior to the actual return, to prepare for any changes, and ask your boss to email any news to you. If there are any newish mums they will be only too pleased to share wisdom and baby stories with you.
The parents’ lifestyle might dictate childcare plans, and for many couples a return is not financially viable. Nurseries cost hundreds of pounds a week and one in four families enlist the help of grandparents to lend a hand with the costs or care. Of course, some parents might not want to leave the offspring with someone else after spending every moment of the past nine months with them.
Some bosses will let a co-worker return on a part-time basis
As well as the new paternity leave rules for 2015, the Government is also changing the system of tax-free vouchers for new parents in the autumn, to provide 20p for each Â£1 spent on childcare. Some families will be better off under the new system, while others â€“ particularly higher- and top-rate taxpayers â€“ will be worse off. It’s worth researching exactly what the changes will mean to you, but this article from the Daily Telegraph will give you an idea.
No-one says that leaving work to have a child and then returning is an easy journey. It’s a tough decision and one loaded with emotional baggage and financial pressures. And there may not be a â€˜correct’ decision, because you’ll either feel it in the pocket or in your heart.
This is a guest post. Links have been provided. Image via Google.