Are you a new mom planning on taking maternity leave from your job? If you’ve never had to take maternity leave before, the process might seem a little confusing. Every state has different rules about time off, and you also need to follow your employer’s protocol for making the request.
If this is your first time taking maternity leave, these tips will help make the process easy and smooth.
Create a plan ahead of time
While you can’t plan for everything, you can prepare for certain predictable situations. For example, after your baby is born, you might need a consultation with a specialist from a company like The Lactation Network. You won’t know what kind of issues you might run into while breastfeeding until after your baby is born.
Plan for this now by gathering information on who to call, in case you need this service.
Other things to plan ahead for include:
- Getting help with household chores. You’ll probably fall behind on certain chores inside and outside of the house. If anything is urgent, plan ahead to hire someone to take care of these tasks for you.
- Changing your routine. Your routine is going to change, so prepare ahead of time.
- Your transition back to work. You probably don’t want to think about it too far in advance, but you’ll need a plan for returning to work.
- Passing your job responsibilities to someone else. Depending on your position, you may be required to pass your responsibilities to someone else. Plan for this transition by creating simple documentation for your processes, deadlines, and anything else your sub will need to know.
- How accessible do you want to be? Plan for how accessible you want to be while you’re on maternity leave. Let people know how and when they can reach you – and when they can’t.
At the very least, plan to adapt to a new schedule for everything and try not to commit to anything until you settle into a new routine.
Know your rights
While you’re thinking about planning your maternity leave, it’s critical to understand your rights. In the U.S., the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to provide you with twelve weeks of time off after having a baby. After twelve weeks, you’re entitled to the same position and pay when you go back to work.
If you’re not covered under FMLA, check your state laws to see if you’re covered in any way. If not, you’ll need to talk to your boss to find out what your options are for taking time off. You’ll need to find out how much time you can take off, whether it’s paid or unpaid, and you may need to use your sick and personal time to give yourself the time you need.
To replace lost income, consider using your short-term disability benefits if you don’t qualify for FMLA. Maternity leave is a qualifying reason to file a claim.
Talk to your boss
It’s important to talk to your boss to let them know you’re expecting. Make sure you tell your boss first rather than your co-workers. You don’t want your boss to find out through the grapevine.
When you tell your boss, deliver the news in a positive, joyful way even if you think they might be upset. You can’t legally be fired for getting pregnant, so if your boss does have a negative reaction, you have legal recourse. However, when you present the news in a joyful manner, it’s likely that your boss will feel your excitement and respond accordingly.
Talk to a co-worker who has taken maternity leave
Do you know a co-worker who has recently taken maternity leave? Talk to them about their experience and find out if there’s anything you need to know. Ask them for advice and any information they think might be helpful to your situation.
Some companies make maternity leave easy, while others don’t. Hopefully, your experience will be easy and smooth. However, if your co-worker encountered any issues with your company, take note and do your best to avoid them.
Take the maximum time you’re allowed
When taking maternity leave, take all the time off you deserve, and don’t try to rush back to work. Spend time bonding with your baby. Those first few months are a critical part of their life.