It is impossible to tell how much your work environment changes when you participate in those changes every day of the week. But when you take off work for an extended period of time – such as for maternity leave – you might find more complications than you bargained for. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t
take maternity leave, or that you should worry unnecessarily before and after the birth. However, you might want to plan for every contingency and keep a level head about maternity leave in general.
Most women gives hours of thought to the birth itself, preparations for the baby when it comes, and how much time to take off work for maternity leave. You’ve probably studied your benefits plan and determined how many sick days you’ve accumulated, and that might change again if there are any difficulties or complications with the birth. But have you thought about what happens when you return?
Consider these factors about maternity leave that most women do not think about, and you’ll have an easier time when you return to work.
1. Find out who will be handling your work while you are gone.
Many companies hire temp employees to substitute for women on maternity leave, but make sure you clarify this fact with your boss. Will someone from another department be coming in to assist while you’re on maternity leave, or will it be an entirely new person not familiar with your office? This can have an effect on the level of work that will be done in your absense and the amount of preparation required on your part.
2. Get your office in order.
Especially if someone else will be using your office, make sure everything is organized and accessible to those who might be looking. Label files appropriately, put office supplies in a top drawer of your desk and make sure that the equipment is in working order. Even if no one will be using your office, at least you won’t return from maternity leave to disaray.
3. Bone up on office policy.
Before you even go on maternity leave, familiarize yourself with the company policy on sick days, child sick days and partial days off. When your new baby is ill, you will have to leave work, so make sure you know the consequences and how much leeway you’ll enjoy. This will also make the return from maternity leave much smoother.
4. Work out child care.
Are you planning to hire a nanny or will your baby go to day care? Either way, things like that should be determined in advance. Once you have decided on the appropriate course of action, discuss details with the childcare provider. If your infant is sick, will you need to stay home, or can they still take care of him? What will they do in the event of accident or injury? Make sure that your childcare provider has all of the information he or she will need: doctors’ numbers, your work number and your preferred emergency plan.
5. Leave notes.
If a temporary employee will be taking over your job while you are on maternity leave, create a notebook with instructions. Anything that the substitute will need to know should be written down to avoid complications or mistakes. Examples could include the names of files on your computer, the proper way to create documents, your boss’ preferred method of presentation prodedure, etc. This will help you to rest easier while you are on maternity leave. And if there are any special instructions for equipment, such as a fax machine or computer, leave a small note on the equipment for easy reference.
6. Stay in touch.
While you are on maternity leave, don’t work. That’s the point. But stay in contact with your temp or your boss to make sure that everything is running smoothly. Ask to be updated on any problems or new policies so that you aren’t bombarded with changes upon returning to work.
7. Return to work at the end of a week.
Starting back from maternity leave on a Monday might be too much, and you’ll have five full work days before you get a chance to recuperate. Coming back to work on a Friday will give you a day to catch up, and then two days to rest and to prepare for the following week. You might also consider coming back only part time for a couple of weeks to get back in the swing of things. Motherhood is stressful, and you don’t want to burn yourself out.
8. Ask questions.
When you return to work from maternity leave, don’t be shy about asking questions. Get together with a co-worker and ask to be filled in on events that happened while you were gone. If you are confused about something, shoot an e-mail to your boss so that you’re informed about the new procedure rather than making a mistake.
These tips should help make your return to work from maternity leave much smoother and less stressful.