The build-up to having a baby is an exciting (if not, slightly nerve-wracking) time.
Often, mothers-to-be are so focused on preparing for their little one’s arrival that they forget to prepare for their own transition into motherhood.
One of the biggest changes you are going to experience is transitioning from full-time office work to full-time motherhood. For some, this prospect is a daunting one. However, by asking the right questions, you will be prepared to journey into motherhood with the resources, support, and peace of mind you need.
Join us as we take a look at the nine essential questions to ask your boss before going on maternity leave.
1. What is the Company’s Policy on Disability?
For some women, it is necessary to extend the maternity leave period to deal with a long-term disability or injury caused by childbirth.
While this is rare, it is important to discuss with your company what their policy is on long-term disability so you won’t need to worry during any unexpected or difficult circumstances.
Any good company worth its salt will know that the health of their employees and their employees’ children should always come first.
2. What Forms Do I Need to Fill Out to Request my Leave?
As with most things, going on maternity leave comes with plenty of paperwork.
Your company will be keen to iron out all those nitty-gritty administrative details before you have your baby. So, during the preparation stage, find out what forms you need to complete to finalise dates, confirm payment, and initiate your leave.
3. Do I Get Paid While on Maternity Leave?
One of the most common questions women preparing for maternity leave have is about maternity pay. Outside of government programmes, the amount of maternity leave and benefits you receive will largely depend on the generosity of your company.
For some, these benefits can match their full salary for six months to one year, while others receive just a portion of their salary for a couple of months. Be sure to ask your employer for the details on the payment amount, length of maternity leave, and any other benefits you should expect.
4. Will my Maternity Leave Affect my Vacation Days?
Many women preparing for the birth of their baby worry that the amount of maternity leave they take will have a direct impact on their holiday allowance.
Again, all companies do things differently. So, while your maternity leave shouldn’t impact your vacation days, it is important to clarify this with your employer.
5. Am I Still Eligible for my Bonus?
Some companies provide yearly or quarterly bonuses to their employees as an incentive for their hard work. However, when you go on maternity leave you may not receive a bonus like you thought you would.
Every company is different, though, and it is important to make sure you understand how your company manages bonuses throughout a person’s leave so that you aren’t left disappointed.
6. How Can I Help Onboard my Replacement?
While you are on maternity leave enjoying new-born snuggles and struggling through those sleepless nights, work at the office will carry on.
As such, the best way to ensure things run smoothly in your absence is by getting actively involved in the hiring and onboarding process of your replacement – the more involved you are in their training, the easier it will be for them to fill your shoes.
Of course, you want people to miss you while you’re gone, but you don’t want all the hard work you’ve put in to fall flat in the hands of someone with little experience. So, take the time to help with onboarding your replacement if you can.
7. How Can I Stay Connected with the Company?
Many women struggle to switch off from work while on maternity leave. The sudden transition from busy office life to busy motherhood can be a significant change for anyone.
Therefore, if you want to stay connected with your workplace, it’s important to make sure this is done in a productive way so it doesn’t affect the productivity of others.
We recommend speaking to your manager or human resources department about the best ways you can stay connected while on maternity leave, so that when you return it doesn’t feel like your first day all over again.
8. How Will I Return to Work?
Returning to work after maternity leave can take some time and, ideally, it is important to have a plan in place before you start your maternity leave.
While this might sound a little over-enthusiastic, it is a great way to reduce the sense of overwhelm when it comes time to return to the office.
Take the time to talk with your employer about the date of your return, the details of juggling childcare, any changes in your working hours or role, and an action plan to help ensure a smooth adjustment back to work.
Coordinating all the logistics in advance really take a load off and allow you to focus on your little one.
9. What is the Policy for Paternity Leave?
Many soon-to-be parents are keen to split their parenting duties between maternity and paternity leave. Whether you and your partner decide to take your leave at the same time or separately, understanding the policy for paternity leave at the individual’s respective company is important.
Not only could it mean you have more support, but it gives the father time to bond with your new baby while you get to bed for a well-deserved nap.
While the above might look like a lot of questions, there is no need to feel overwhelmed – you can easily get the answers to all these questions and more by scheduling a single meeting with the right person (or people) in your company.
We suggest talking to your manager and perhaps roping in someone from Human Resources. Be sure to write your questions down in advance so that you don’t forget anything, send a follow-up email to confirm the details you discussed, and write up your notes afterwards so that you can refer to them later.
Maternity leave is an exciting time in any woman’s life and with the right preparation, you can make the most out of every moment with your little one.