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Back to work support for mums is essential if you are going to have a successful transition from maternity leave/career break to having a career again. Too many mums that I have spoken to often find that back to work support for mums is hard to come by for many reasons. These include a lack of flexible working and not being able to find the time to job hunt in the first place. The result of this is that many mums either give up hope of finding another job that works with family life, or they go back to their previous job knowing the hours and lifestyle belong in the past.
As a recruiter with 13 years of experience who’s directly supplied to Credit Suisse, S&P Global, FCA, etc. - and as a mum myself - I know how crucial it is to find a balance between work and family life. I also know that mums have acquired a tremendous amount of transferable skills, from managing stress better, to being creative at the drop of a hat.
So, how can you now get the best deal with your employer? Read my essential back to work support for mums below.
If you’re returning to work after maternity leave, it's crucial to know where you stand with your employer before your start date - and make sure that any conversations are confirmed in writing. If you are requesting a more flexible work pattern, this needs to be agreed with your line manager and HR so that you and your employer have a positive start.
Going back to work can also be a daunting experience so you may want to think about flexible working options that could work for you. This could be anything from working from home to working fewer hours. You may also want to see if you’d like to use some of your annual leave for a more gradual return. That way, you’re not thrown in the deep end.
When I went back to work after maternity leave, I made sure that I met up with colleagues to find out all the latest news and policy changes that had happened. I then knew what to expect from the start. This really helped me feel prepared for my start date.
From a UK legal standpoint, employees returning to work within 26 weeks of maternity leave are entitled to return to the exact same job they left. After 26 weeks, your employer should offer you the same job or if not available, a similar one. If you’ve decided your start date but want to change it, you must give 8 weeks notice.
I’m the first to admit that after I had my first child, I felt a huge pressure to be a “super mum.’ I put a lot of expectation on myself to be the perfect mum and career woman to a point that I felt very depressed. I’ve had to learn to be easy on myself and I often tell myself that its okay if I don’t get things done the way I want. At the end of the day, we are mums and we don’t have the same flexibility as we used to.
So, if you’re going back to work and you make a mistake, or you’re worried about letting your boss down or are worried about being in the slow lane, take a step back and tell yourself “it's okay. I’m doing more than enough and I’m doing my best.”
If you’ve secured a new job after having a career break, firstly a big congratulations! Secondly, don’t be too hard on yourself if you make a mistake at first or you feel unsure about new systems and processes. It takes time to get to know how things work and it's important to go easy on yourself.
You may also want to take up extra training or courses relevant to your new job so that you feel ready and confident. Your manager and colleagues are also there to support you because it's important for them that you are set-up for success.
If you have specific childcare needs e.g. nursery pickups at a certain time, or you want to request a more flexible working arrangement, it’s a good idea to have these agreed by your manager before you start so that your employer knows where they stand from the beginning. Legally in the UK, you can request flexible working after 26 weeks of employment with your employer. Use that time to settle in and see how best to match your flexible working requirements to the business needs of the employer.
Published: September 17, 2019
The biggest thing I’ve learnt from having a career and being a mum is the ability to be strong enough to say, “this is the life I want” and not feel guilty for saying it. I know, it’s easier said than done right? But, I’ve been able to do this by organising my career in a way that doesn’t inflict on family life.Discover more