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Worried about work after maternity leave

(11 Posts)
soontobeamum1982 Mon 17-Apr-17 18:32:17

I'm 24 weeks pregnant and due to stressful job with long hours and a difficult commute I've decided to go on maternity leave at 34 weeks. The way my boss is handling it is freaking me out. I feel like I won't have a job to return to at all afterwards.

I won't give too many specific details because I don't want to be identifiable, however the salient facts are:
1) my job is not being externally advertised for 12 month cover, and neither is that of the more junior person who will be in part acting up
2) the meat of my role is being split between the more junior person (acting up) and a person more senior to me

I run a small department and this was not my desired way of handling my absence (I'm taking the full year) as it radically alters the structure of the team. I'm concerned that when I try to come back there will be nothing for me and I will be pushed out or shoved into a much less significant role... not least because despite all the talk of flexibility and opportunities, I work in a declining industry where redundancies are common.

I realise that how my absence is covered is not actually up to me but my manager, and I have already reminded him of the law about returning to a job at the same grade and on same salary (FTE) when I return after 52 weeks, but his whole way of handling it has made me feel really nervous about going off and whether i'll ever get back into work again afterwards (and bluntly, as I earn more than OH, we have no option but for me to work once the child is age one).

Just looking for experiences/advice or any thoughts on how to handle nerves about stepping back at work really.... I'd be interested to hear from anyone about how they managed the transition.

I know I need to learn to let it go a bit. But HOW?

SushiNushi Mon 17-Apr-17 20:56:33

Hi soontobe. I can't offer any advice I'm afraid, as I'm still in my first trimester and haven't told work yet yet. But I just wanted to sympathise, what an annoying situation. How do the more senior and more junior people feel about it, do you know? Do they think they'll be able to cope?

I'm also the main earner and will have to return to work at 9 months, if not before. I'm already worried about being replaced by a maternity cover who's better than me, not being able to take as long off as i want etc etc. Hopefully it's just the hormones. Good luck to you.

SquashyMummy Mon 17-Apr-17 22:00:14

Hi soontobe
I can really relate to your situation as I had a stressful and miserable time with work whilst pregnant/ negotiating my return to work. Sadly it is really common and it makes the transition to motherhood much harder as it can feel as if your whole work identity is being taken away.
I don't have any magic tips but would advise documenting everything and joining a union if there is one. It will all work out in the end, but it can be a long wait. I felt very trapped in the situation as ordinarily I would have started applying for other jobs immediately to escape an unhappy work situation, and instead I had to wait over a year. In the end, I did negotiate to return to a job I was happy with but it was only for a maternity cover (of someone else) and I got offered a job elsewhere one month after returning from mat leave. Just about to start TTC #2 and feeling much more secure and happy at work. It will work out for you too, good luck!

stealthbanana Mon 17-Apr-17 22:34:49

Personally, in your situation I would return to work after 6 months. They are then obliged to give you your actual job back. Can your dh take the second 6 month block as spl if you are the main earner?

tellywelly Mon 17-Apr-17 23:02:14

They have to give you your job back after 9 months paid leave maximum I think? I'm sure you're allowed to change your mind regards length of leave as well...

Companies can treat you like shit though-it's too easy. Bear in mind you may also be feeling a bit paranoid. Pregnancy hormones and all that...

Can you see an employment lawyer? So you know where you stand legally? Are you in a union?

I understand this is a tough situation. I'd get my CV and LinkedIn profile etc polished before I went on mat leave - just in case. But I'm cynical!

SquashyMummy Tue 18-Apr-17 21:38:52

It's a very personal decision but I would disagree with the advice to return after 6 months. Don't make decisions for you and your baby based on worries about a work idiot. If they treat you badly then focus on using a return to your current job/whatever role they offer you as a stepping stone to moving on to a new role.

BentleyBelly Tue 18-Apr-17 21:48:14

I joined a union when pregnant with my first...the way work handled my mat leave was a joke. Do you have a HR department that can advise? A maternity policy you can refer to? Acas helped me too. I was in a weird situation with a fixed term contract. You have my sympathy, it shouldn't be so stressful.

JustMyLuckUnfortunately Tue 18-Apr-17 21:52:52

No advice on how to handle work except the employment board has lots of HR practitioners on it who could add to the advice given here.

But as someone who has recently returned to work from mat leave it's so important you feel ok when you finish up so you can just enjoy your time with your baby. It really does go in so quick

2ducks2ducklings Wed 19-Apr-17 22:50:02

I'm fairly certain that you must be able to walk into the same job you left. This is what I was told, but that was 10 years ago so things could have changed.
I'm concerned this time around though. I don't know how my role will be covered (I haven't told work yet) and I know my place of work will be going through some pretty major changes in the next few months and I'll be off (all being well) during the important months where new systems will be implemented. So when I go back it'll be to manage an office of people who will know more about what's going on than I will. It's not helped by the fact that one of my colleagues told me she'd resign on the spot if I should ever conceive another child (this was said about two weeks after I'd suffered a miscarriage) so I'm really nervous about telling them and having to deal with the negativity.
I'm not the breadwinner in our house by any stretch, but we couldn't afford for me not to return and the job I do fits in so well with our children that I'd be stupid to resign and look somewhere else.
It's so hard isn't it? And it's certainly not fair that you're having to deal with this crap when you've got much more important things to be concerning yourself with!

stealthbanana Thu 20-Apr-17 00:12:56

You must be given back your exact same role if you return within the period of Oridinary Maternity leave (which is 26 weeks aka 6 months). After that you merely need to be given a job that is equivalent (same grade etc). The problem is that if you want that particular job/it's a career for you, and you have an unsympathetic work place, saying "don't worry just spend time with your baby" may result in you getting paid off /made redundant /downgraded - which is fine if you just want the money but not if you want the job! Thus my advice to go back (or at least TELL them you're going back) at the 6 month mark.

EpoxyResin Thu 20-Apr-17 11:39:43

I do think if you're very attached to a particular job you should consider shared parental leave with your dp, as pp has said. As far as I remember you can split shared leav into three blocks between you, so you could go back at 6 months whilst your dp stayed home for a period of time, then you could switch back and you go off again. I think that's the maximum number of switches!

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