Returning to work after maternity leave can be both a challenging and an exciting time. If you’re worried about any aspect of the process, then there are practical steps to consider before and after your maternity leave.
Read up on your rights: if you have been with your employer and working continuously for over 26 weeks before you became pregnant, then you can request a flexible working schedule to best suit you both. Moving forward, this can include things like flexible hours, working from home or job sharing.
Whilst not the easiest to accomplish, it can be a good idea to start getting back in touch with your employer towards the end of your maternity leave. This will give you a chance to get work updates and make the transition smoother for you both.
It’s also important to know that should you wish to breastfeed at work, as is your right, you must submit a written notification to your employer, so they are able to carry out a risk assessment prior. This is to ensure that there are no risks or danger posed to mother and baby and that a suitable rest facility is available for you to use.
Remember that annual holiday leave builds up whilst you’re on maternity, the same as it would if you were working. You can choose to combine this with your maternity leave to extend it or use it at a later date; make sure to ask how this works at your company so you don’t miss out.
Lastly, know that discrimination based on pregnancy is illegal and your employer could be taken to court should the issues become serious. Usually it’s a good idea to bring up any initial problems in person to avoid potential misunderstandings and minor gripes, preventing them getting blown out of proportion. You can also always refer to the Equality Act should you need to check what is and isn’t reasonable behaviour for you and your employer.
As you get used to this new exciting phase of your life and settle into a good rhythm, use all the resources available to help you get there as fast and easily possible.