When mums go on maternity leave, some of them may already know that they will want to return to work on a part-time basis and on roughly what date. Others tell their employer that they will be returning after so many months – since maternity pay now extends to when the baby is 9 months old, this is a popular time for many mothers to return to the workplace.
However, many mums just don’t know how they’ll feel about returning to work until they’ve had their baby. Some mums decide to hand in their notice and stay at home; others decide that for financial or other reasons they really have to return to work full-time.
But the vast majority of mums ask their employers, during their maternity leave, if they will consider allowing them to return to work on a part-time basis.
Employers have a duty to consider such requests, but can refuse them on various grounds; usually that part time work for a particular post wouldn’t meet the business’s customers’ needs. For example, a business may need to ensure that customers can expect to speak to the member of staff dealing with their file during normal business hours.
As a rule, the larger the company, the more likely you are to have a request to work part-time granted. This is because they have more flexibility as they have more employees to cover the hours required, and are often amenable to job-share arrangements. They are also more acutely aware of the benefits of being seen to be a family-friendly business.
There are a number of choices available in terms of what kind of hours you would like to work, and some compromise with your employer may be needed. You could ask to work, say, five days a week but just mornings/afternoons: that way, you get to spend good chunks of time with your baby every day. This might be more appropriate when your baby is still young and spending long periods of time apart is hard on both of you.
Or you could ask to work two or three full days per week, leaving you with two or three full weekdays with your child, which you might find easier and more relaxing, knowing that you have full non-working days to enjoy with your young child – it’s easier to switch off from work that way.
Your choice may be ultimately decided by a combination of what your employer needs and what your childcare arrangements can facilitate. If you have family who can look after your little one whilst you’re at work, you can obviously be much more flexible than if you are reliant on non-family care.
When choosing a school for your child, be mindful of the need for wrap-around care if you are not able to work solely during school hours.
Be flexible and keep reviewing your situation to make sure your needs – and your child’s – are being met whilst your bills are being paid.
This is a sponsored post for workingmums.co.uk