by Pregnancy.org Staff
Becoming a parent is one of the most monumental experiences in a person's life. Unfortunately, children do not come with foolproof instructions! Combining a career and family life presents special challenges. The real advantage to planning maternity leave is having the time to do it right. As early as possible, find out your company's policies. All contractual rights, including pension, holiday entitlement, medical benefits, etc. are accrued during maternity leave although this may not be the case if you take extended maternity leave.
Before you announce your pregnancy, try to review your company's policy. Ask your Human Resources Department, or check you benefits handbook for a written copy.
While it's impossible to be exact about when your child will arrive and when you'll be physically and emotionally ready to come back to work, you might want to share approximate return dates with your employer (but rmember you are not obliged to do so). Do a little thinking before you decide how long you'd like your leave to be. Here are some considerations:
It's worth taking into account the experience of friends and colleagues who have recently taken maternity leave. It can help you to be more realistic about your situation. If you are working towards a promotion for instance, think hard about whether you need to modify your mental time scales to avoid putting excessive pressure on yourself at a time when you will likely be both exhausted and madly in love with your baby. You don't need to forgo promotion, but you may well want to postpone it.
Once you've checked you company policy and thought about how much time you'd like, make an outline of your 'ideal' plan. Remember that just by presenting a plan for your leave, you are already showing your commitment and indicating that you intend to return to work. Think ahead about what you want to say, and be prepared to discuss these points with your manager.
Suggest your 'ideal' scenario for returning to work. While it's best to be somewhat flexible and ready to compromise, be wary of compromising too much. If you are convinced you want to work four days a week and you are persuaded to work full time, you're likely to become increasingly unhappy and lose motivation over time.