So your maternity leave is about to end, what are your rights and what do you need to know?

1) You must notify your employer at least 8 weeks before if you want to delay or bring forward your return date.

2) You have the right to return to the same role, on the same salary and conditions as you previously were, as long as you are returning at 26 weeks or less. After 26 weeks, you are entitled to the same job but if there is a business reason that your employer doesn’t feel that this is feasible, you are entitled to a job the same salary and conditions that you had prior to maternity leave.

3) You accrue holiday pay whilst on maternity leave. You have the option to either add this onto your maternity leave or take it as additional holiday when back.

4) You have the right to request flexible working as long as you have been in employment for 26 continuous weeks. doesn’t mean it is guaranteed to be granted.

5) “Keeping in touch days” – You can agree these with your employer before your return date and can do a maximum of 10. This will help you get to grips with any changes and can help out financially too.

6) HMRC state that you can start claiming childcare vouchers as soon as your child is born.

For more information, click on this link: https://www.gov.uk/help-with-childcare-costs/childcare-vouchers

On top of your rights, there are other factors that need consideration.

1) Phased return to work – Asking for this is worth consideration, whether it be working less days by using up annual leave that you have accrued or shorter hours.

2) Childcare – This is a particularly important factor as this needs to work both practically and mentally. The childcare has to be with someone that you feel 100% comfortable leaving your child with. This can be in the form of a childminder or nursery. The care also needs to work with your new working patterns so remember to test this before your first full day back in the office. Also do you have a back up plan? If your child is sick, are there friends / family that can help out? Have you had these conversations with the relevant people as well as your spouse / partner?

3) Juggling – The thought of juggling work and caring for your child can be daunting so it is important to be prepared. Planning is key – amongst other things, lay out clothes the night before and do your food shop online. Try batch cooking at the weekends and have your meals planned just to ease the strain a bit.

4) Mindset – Preparing yourself mentally to a new way of life can be challenging but ultimately is essential. It is going to take you a while to get into your groove so allow yourself the time to adjust. Working will be a different and being able to stay late will not necessarily be an option as it once was. Rest is key to a healthy mindset so as interesting as Social Media is, try and have early nights and gain invaluable sleep

5) Be kind to yourself! This is now a new routine that you have to establish and feel comfortable in. It is easy to feel like you are failing if you aren’t doing all the things with your child that you did on maternity or you leave work on-time in the middle of a task as you have to be at the nursery before it closes but you’re doing your best. Your child is not going to suffer if they watch more TV than you initially planned while you have a shower and work will carry on if you leave an email response until the morning or do it later that evening. The majority of parents returning to work feel the same so give yourself a break.

Next time, we will consider things to consider if returning part-time and how to find a part-time job!