Advice for Getting Back into the Workplace if you’ve Recently Started a Family

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Helping children to flourish can be very time-intensive, as many parents will be able to attest. If you have only recently become a parent, you have the added burden of being inexperienced in looking after children – and you can feel disoriented when returning to work after maternity leave.

Whether you are currently on maternity leave or have taken a more permanent break from working to be a stay-at-home parent, here are some ways that you can reacquaint yourself with work.

When exactly should you return to work?

It’s worth heeding advice from The Guardian that “there’s never a ‘right’ time to go back”. However, if you are contemplating a return, a good rule of thumb is to consider the options carefully and, when the situation feels 80% conducive to a successful return, simply go for it.

What if you want to return early or late from maternity leave?

Giving birth and raising a child might have proved more or less time-draining than you had anticipated. In either case, you might want to return to your old job at a time different to what you had previously agreed with your employer. Before this plan can be put into action, you would need to give the employer eight weeks’ notice, cautions the Money Advice Service.

Will you be able to return straight to the same job?

It’s tempting to think that, upon your arrival back at work after maternity leave, your corporate responsibilities will feel much like they did before. However, in six months or a year, big changes may have come about, such as shifts in personnel.

While you are generally entitled to return not only to the same job but also on the same terms and conditions, this might not always be practically possible. For example, you might have to say goodbye to night shifts if the role used to involve these. However, you would maintain the right to the offer of a similar position on terms and conditions as good as your previous job’s or better.

What if you have more permanently severed your work ties?

In some parenting situations, maternity leave can seem insufficient and so lead you to make a complete departure from your job instead. However, this poses the question of how you should detail your child-raising responsibilities on your CV when you eventually decide to return to work.

Contrary to particular advice dispensed by many careers advisors, don’t describe your parenting like an office-based role, warns the Independent. Instead, you should be more upfront about having been a stay-at-home parent. If you developed valuable, work-appropriate skills – like time management and negotiation – as a result of that parenting, present them in suitable language.

During your career break, you might have been engaged in volunteering work which has entailed raising money or negotiating sponsorship. Those responsibilities may have helped you hone skills including communication skills and marketing; hence, including that volunteering work on your CV could help you to secure paid work in marketing or a similar field.

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