Integration back into the workplace after months of sleepless nights, pureeing carrots and walking in the park is not always as easy as you might think. In fact, it might shock you to know that a whopping 65% of women on maternity leave do not go back to their employer. Why? Some women choose not to return to work, but more often than not, they are left with no choice due to inflexibility from employers.
According to our research, 44% of women don’t return to work at all and 21% return to a new more flexible employer.
The stats raise the question – are employers doing enough to accommodate their employees changing needs and circumstances? Some employers are flying the flag for returning to work and even offer specially developed programmes to ease new parents back into work life. Others, sadly, are really letting the side down.
Here are a few ideas on how you can stay ‘in touch’ and engaged with your employer while you’re away. If your employer is currently not using any of these methods, then make your case for them. It’s in their interests to hold on to good people!
Buddy up with a colleague and have a monthly catch-up call. You can stay in the loop and be involved in decisions (if you want to!) whilst on maternity leave.
(Obviously, this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Some parents want to 100% switch off from work when they’re on maternity leave, which is totally fair enough. It’s all down to personal preference.)
Following an initial catch-up session, ‘phase’ back into the workplace on your return after maternity leave e.g. be ‘in’ but not ‘on’. This helps new parents to re-acclimatise to the world of work.
Flexible start and finish times, remote working, part time, full time condensed hours, term-time only and job shares are just some of the options available. If your employer doesn’t offer flexible working, make the case for it! Read our blog on asking for flexible working hours.
Shared paternity leave
Consider shared paternity leave as an option, meaning each parent spends less time out of the workplace but your baby has that quality time with both of you.
Having a baby is an emotional time and will change your life forever, so it’s very difficult to plan ahead. You just don’t know how you will feel tomorrow, let alone six months or 12 months down the line. You may not want to go back and be fortunate enough not to have to, or you may want to return on a flexible working pattern. Or perhaps, you want to carry on just as before. Everyone is different.
Maybe you are thinking of a change in career direction. If this is the case it may be worth talking to a career coach. You can read more about this on our blog.
Whatever route you choose to go down, there are always options available. If your employer is not parent-friendly and flexible, encourage them to be! There are plenty out there who are!