Returning to work after maternity leave can be a huge adjustment what with juggling work and home life, making childcare arrangements and getting to grips with being back in the work place. We offer some of our top tips and suggestions on how you can make your return to work as smooth as possible.
No matter whether you are itching to return to work or the thought of leaving your precious child fills you with dread, it will take time to adjust to working life again – the key is to plan and prepare and accept that this is a big change for everyone, and things might not fall into place straight away.
Your rights on returning to work
If you are returning to work after 26 weeks or less you are entitled to return to exactly the same job as you were doing before the start of your leave. If you have taken additional maternity leave and are returning after more than 26 weeks, you still have the right to return to the same job on the same terms, however if this is not possible because there have been significant changes to your workplace, your employer can offer you a suitable alternative job.
This role must have at least the same terms and conditions as your previous position including pay, benefits, holiday entitlement, level of seniority and place of work.
What is considered ‘good business reasons’?
Your employer many have made significant changes in the organisation whilst you have been away which may have affected the roles and responsibilities for you and your colleagues. Your employer cannot however, keep your maternity cover in place in your role and offer you an alternative role - there must be a good reason why you cannot return to your old job.
Can I request changes to my working hours when I return from maternity leave?
All employees are entitled to request changes to their hours of work, days or work or place of work provided they have been with the company for at least 26 weeks. After returning from maternity leave you may wish to consider working part-time, term-time only, working from home, job share (or a combination of more than one of these options).
It is important to remember that you have the right to request flexible working however this does not mean that you have a right to work flexibly; your employer has to consider your request properly, but it can be refused for business reasons such as additional costs, being unable to rearrange workloads between existing colleagues or a detrimental impact on customer demands or performance.
For more information see:
Tips on returning to work after maternity leave
If you want to keep your hand in, consider Keeping In Touch days (KIT) whilst you are on maternity leave. You can work up to 10 days during your maternity leave however these need to be agreed with your employer as neither party can insist on them being taken
A phased return may help you return to work in the first few months – you could use some of your annual leave to work a shorter week for the first month or reduce your hours on a temporary basis.
Calendar regular reviews with your line manager. Make sure you catch up on a weekly basis during the first few weeks so you can identify what is or isn’t working well and discuss potential solutions – this is particularly important if you have had a flexible working request approved and you and your team are adjusting to the new arrangements.
Ask for help. It is very easy for those you work with to assume everything is OK if you don’t say anything.
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