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Going back to work after maternity leave - advice please

(14 Posts)
Swizzler Tue 16-May-06 13:53:47

I'm trying to plan what to do with my maternity leave (currently 19w pg). I get 3 months on full pay (as long as I go back) then 3 months statutory, then the 6 months unpaid. I'm planning to take 6 months in total (i.e. none unpaid) and then ask to go back part-time.

Has anyone had experience with going back p/t? Howe many days did you do? I'm not sure whether to ask to go back 3 or 4 days a week to start with. I will have a longer journey to work, as we'll be moving a bit further out of London (need another room for the sprog!). I have an office-based job with reasonably flexible hours.

Any help would be appreciated.

motherinferior Tue 16-May-06 13:56:07

If you have a journey to work, I would suggest going back three days with an option on four after, say, three to six months. I am freelance, so my situation is slightly different (not least because I don't get paid maternity leave), but that's what I did - after a shorter break - after my first baby.

helsi Tue 16-May-06 13:59:12

First time I returned 2 days a week as my child carer was my mum so didn't cost anything. This time will be slightly different and I am planning it now myself. I do not want to pay for much childcare so dh and I are seeing what we can do between us first. I am also not happy with private day nurseries ATM as much in the press recently about them. I wish I knew a SAHM that I could possibly share with but I don't. It is something I need to seriously think about so I will watch this thread with interest. sorry I'm not much help.

lovelyneve Tue 16-May-06 18:38:37

I went back for three days and i think i have got the right balance. I wouldn't want to do any more than that. why don't you start with three days and then see how you feel.

TwoToTango Tue 16-May-06 19:24:10

I went back after maternity leave 5 years ago doing 3 days a week. I find it ideal particuarly now ds is at school. If there is anything at the school I have to go to or he is ill I am able to swap my days. this means I don't have to use holiday and I don't feel bad about taking time off when he is ill etc. I think any more than 3 days when he was little would have been too much for me. Now he is at school thought I sometimes do extra days - it is easier to ask to work more days than to try and reduce your days!

dotty2 Tue 16-May-06 20:04:56

My dd is now 1 and I have been back at work 3 days a week since January (when she was about 8 months). I also worked 1 day a week in the autumn and my dh looked after her, using his annual leave. Obviously not all employers would be flexible enough to allow that, but it was a brilliant way for me of breaking myself back into work gently, without worrying about childcare (though did spend quite a lot of time worrying about dh...It was a good experience for both of them in the end, though.)

3 days a week is good, I think - he/she will still be with you for the majority of the time, which is good if you have any qualms at all about their childcare - and who doesn't have at least some? One thing to consider, though, is the cost of commuting. I also live a fair old way from London and a season ticket while only working 3 days a week is just too expensive. Standard return tickets are also prohibitively expensive, so I have to get very organised and book advance purchase tickets a long time in advance, which is then a pain if I want to change my days. And I can never stay late unless it's planned in advance - both a blessing and a curse. I am lucky in that I work at home at least one day a week.

With some employers, it's probably easier increase your days if you want to, whereas with others, it's probably easier to decrease. So you need to take that into account in thinking about whether to do 3 or 4 days. I had to agree with my employer that I couldn't increase my days back up to 4 or 5 unless I could raise the money for it (work for a voluntary sector body!).

oooggs Tue 16-May-06 20:07:45

I was told when pg that if you work the latter part of the week your full time collegues are happier as closer to the weekend!!!!!!

I work 16 hrs over Weds, Thurs & Fri 5.20 each day.

But due to flexi time I can start at 7am which doesn't then eat into too much of the day

threebob Tue 16-May-06 20:10:54

I don't know the law in the UK, but in NZ you are better to ask for the maximum you can have (1 year, most of it unpaid) because you can always give notice (3 weeks) and then go back early - whereas your employer has no legal obligation to extend your leave once you have chosen to have less and changed your mind.

It's worth considering that you won't be ready to go back when your child is 6 months.

nicnack2 Tue 16-May-06 20:11:40

Hi swizzler

Went back partime after DS1 was workin 37 hours went to 18.5. worked Thur, Fri, one week then Mon, tues, wed next week. In essence 5 on and 5 off.

honneybunny Tue 16-May-06 21:08:07

hi swizzler,
re what threebob said about asking for maximum leave: i'm in uk and got 6 months paid, 6 months unpaid. they assume when you go on leave that you'll take full allowance (so 1 year), and all you need to do is inform them in writing and 28 days in advance, when you'll return. i knew i was going to take 6 months paid none unpaid, but still my hr manager advised me to wait giving them notice untill last possible moment. just to see what i wanted to do, as having the baby, and staying at home might change your mind. this was good advice!

Buddanjoe Tue 16-May-06 22:33:15


I requested to go back to work part time after 6 moths maternity leave and they OK'd it. As far as I am aware, unless there are genuine reasons your job cannot be done part time they have to allow you to! The Maternity alliance website has all good advice and tells you where you stand with regards to employment laws re this.
I have had a stint of a year working full time after my son turned one and it was the most depressing, tiring and stressed time of my life so therefore I wouldn't recommend it unless you really have to or really love your job!

Toothyboy Tue 16-May-06 22:44:40

I went back part time after 1st maternity leave; I work for a Local Authority, which has a policy of phased return, which basically means you can do as little as you want working back up to your full time hours over the first 6 months. Fortunately my boss was very flexible and allowed me to continue on part time hours when I told him I would not be returning to full time!

I work Mon, Tues and Fri - this began as it fitted in with child care arrangements, but when I first went back I was glad I didn't have 3 days in a row away from ds1! And Friday is a good day to work cos nobody does anything anyway!

Swizzler Wed 17-May-06 09:29:54

Thanks for all your responses - sounds like 3 days a week would be a good idea to start off with. I'll bear in mind the notice thing, although I thought it was fair to warn my boss that I was planning to come back after 6 months in case he was looking to find a replacement for a year. He understands that that might change.

I do enjoy my job and definitely want to go back at some point - the main reason I'm planning to return after 6 months is that OH is now self-employed and we can't guarantee that he'll be earning enough to keep all of us by the time my maternity pay stops. He's also happy to look after the baby while I'm at work, which is good. I expect we'll still have to look into using a childminder at least 1 day a week, as he'll need time to work and go to meetings etc. or his business will go bust!

We'll have a word with HR in a few weeks, as will need to arrange for cover and the possibility of my returning p/t. I hope I can manage 3 days, as it sounds ideal, possibly going up to 4 days later on.

Sounds like my chances of arranging p/t work are pretty good, so fingers crossed!

lexiemum Wed 17-May-06 21:56:16

I'm for 3days too. I took some extended leave and went back 2days initially but didn't feel much of the team. Once up to 3days felt much better and made a significant difference to the paypacket.

I'm still on 3days but do longer hrs (work a 30hrcontract).

should you be discussing and agreeing part time working now? anything could happen post-birth, you don't want to be agreeing to something you might not be able to get out of.

if you're going to use a childminder - work out now how much this will cost you and the effect on your salary, check out your employers position on childcare vouchers - if they don't offer, start hassling HR now, so in place when you get back. It can take 3mths min to find the right childminder so bear this in mind. pick up / drop off times with cm's can be fixed so it may take you into less hrs at work if you have to achieve a full working day, do the drop off and pick up then you may only have a 1hr window either side of day for commuting.

this is going to be an essay but some other tips to consider:

1) Start mat leave the sunday before due date and ask that all annual leave you have between now and then be used just before (could give you an extra month off). mat leave kicks in if baby arrives so if early then would probably be able to move leave to other end of mat leave.
2) you accrue annual leave whilst on mat leave at your contract rate so don't change your working hrs before then or you'll loose out.
3) use this accrued leave when you go back, taking one day off each week so graduate steppingback into work. i.e. change contract on return date to say a 3 day week but work a 2 day week using one annual leave day.
4) your mat pay is calculated based on one weeks wage (they assume this to be an average earning) somewhere between wk 24 and 30 of pregnancy, think its 28wks - HR will tell you which week it is. If overtime is available, do as much as you can this week or if bonuses are part of your work get them paid then - this will give you a higher amount paid out in the 6mths paid leave.

essay now complete!

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