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How to go back to work after maternity leave

You've been away from the office for a few months to take care of your baby. Processes and staff might have changed in the office, and you have changed. Here are some tips. Some tips might also apply to people who have been raising children and want to go back to work.

Things you'll need

  • Support from family, friends and colleagues
  • Childcare arrangements
  • A job

Keep in touch with the office

Most companies will have keep in touch days. You can claim up to 10 KIT days for the duration of your Maternity Leave.  You are entitled to receive payment for these days, so please make sure you notify the relevant colleague(s) who manage payroll so they can process this for you. 

Use these opportunities to meet your manager and colleagues. After the official meeting to catch up with the status of work in the team, why not have lunch with them. It will also be an opportunity to talk about your options when you go back to work. And you can bring your baby along so they can meet the team!

Be aware that to go back to work, you need to give notice to your employer, usually two months, find out how long you need to give to be sure, as these rules differ at different organisations.  When giving notice, please make sure you do this in writing, so that this is recorded.  

Before leaving for Maternity Leave, you should also find out your workplace's rules on accrual of annual leave, as this may also affect your return to work date.  Depending on your organisation's Maternity Policy, you may have the option of being paid for the leave you have accrued during Maternity Leave or taking it at the end so you return to work at a later date, but please consult your HR team so you have a timeline figured out.

If you plan on returning to work at a date different to the one you specified (i.e. earlier or later than planned) before leaving for Maternity Leave, you must let HR know within at least 8 weeks of that original scheduled date.


Get support

Going back to work will be a challenge at first.

While coping with commute, long hours, you will miss not having your baby with you, it will not be easy.

Picture of a baby right hand  - Copyright Stephanie Hill, picture of my sonTo feel less stressed, ask friends and family to help, perhaps with little things, like shopping for you or bringing a meal or just keeping you company at the weekend.

Talk to other mums you know and other mothers at work. Sharing your experience will make you feel you're not alone.

Get support by choosing childcare at least a month before going back to work

Often nurseries and childminders offer settle-in time, which means your child will be used to its new surroundings. And you will feel better knowing where your child will be and what he will be doing all day.

Don't be afraid to call as many times as you want. Childminders and nurseries are used to parents calling. Obviously, it's better to keep these calls for your break times and from your mobile.


Get your confidence back

Ease yourself into work

If you stayed at home or away from an office setting or team setting for a long time it can be daunting to go back into the swing of things. The crowd during commuting and the hours of work can be a shock ot the sytem.

You could go back three days a week or four days a week, for a few weeks first. Perhaps you want to work 30 hours in four days. Talk to the HR department and employer about flexible working as there is a formal procedure which needs to be followed. Try to have lunch with a colleague regularly. You'll feel less isolated and will find out about what has been happening in the team.

Little steps

You know your job. You might have forgotten little things but don't worry it will come back to you. Talk to your manager and colleagues about your feelings, if you're back from maternity leave, the organisation might have new processes. You could need training or induction on new aspects of the organisation. These little steps will help you feel better.


More than a year away

Time to update your CV

If you are looking for work after raising children for many years, it's time to write or update your CV. List all your achievements and set out very clearly the dates when you did not work and write what you did in that time.

It would be a good idea to contact job agencies in your area as they would help you find out things you could do. Don't forget your local job centre, where they often offer CV writing workshop for free and have computers where you can touch type and look for jobs.

Transferable skills

Often, people who take care of their children and wish to get back to work feel like they do not have experience in other work related skills. But think about it, childcare involves:

  • timekeeping
  • great organisation skills
  • creativity
  • patience and
  • effective multi-tasking. All skills that are relevant to many roles.

If you belong to a local group, have organised events, think of an example you can talk about. Have you taken a course to develop existing skills or learn a new one? Have you done voluntary work instead of staying inactive? This shows a willingness to learn and to adapt.

Further information


Page last edited Apr 13, 2017 History

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