Tips for coming back to work after maternity leave

By Robert Half on 8th November 2019

Coming back to work after maternity leave presents an entirely new set of professional and personal challenges as you go between gradually focusing on getting back into the groove of the workplace and your working schedule, while establishing a new equilibrium at home.

According to an NCT study on work reintegration, 39% of mothers said they found coming back from maternity leave very difficult. Their survey answers revealed anxiety around professional relations with business leaders, the culture of the organisation, and the level of support within workplace processes. 

With that in mind, a few simple preparatory steps, such as arranging flexible working after maternity leave, making use of keep in touch days, or returning to work after maternity leave part time, are all options that can be highly effective when trying to reintegrate. Here are some of the ways you can work with your employers to make coming back to work after maternity leave easier.

Make use of keep in touch days

UK maternity law legally entitles you to 10 keep in touch days (KIT) over the course of your maternity leave. You can take them as half days or full days which can be arranged with your employer before you go on leave.

Keep in touch days can be particularly useful as a way to maintain contact with your maternity cover professional, with the business and with the progression of your role. You may find that reintegration is easier when coming back from maternity leave if you use KIT days to maintain your connection.

Arrange a thorough maternity handover period

A thorough and well-considered maternity handover can drastically improve your experience when coming back to work after maternity leave. Start by meeting with your manager to agree the terms on which you’ll be coming back and how you’d like to reintegrate yourself. 

After you’ve touched base with your manager, you can begin a handover meeting with your maternity cover professional to find out what you’ve missed while you’ve been gone. They should give you a thorough set of notes, similar to those provided for them when they took up the role for you. It may also help to meet with your colleagues, one on one, to understand the bigger picture within your team.

As you did before you left work, try to arrange a day’s overlap in which you work alongside them, so you can monitor if anything has changed and whether processes have shifted in your absence.  

Start your reintegration with office hours that work for you

It’s helpful to take things slowly at first after coming back from maternity leave. You might like to consider arranging part time hours for the first week or two, so you can reacclimatise to the schedule of a working day.  Returning to work after maternity leave part time could also be managed using blocks of leave taken intermittently through shared parental leave. 

As well as requesting part time hours, you can also consider requesting flexible working after maternity leave. This could include the option to work from home several days a week, job sharing with your maternity cover, or working staggered hours. Flexible working after maternity leave will give you the time you need to split your attention between a new arrival and your job, while allowing you to reintegrate and within your own time transition into work again. 

Coming back to work after maternity leave and searching for a new role?

Are you coming back from maternity leave and want to reassess your career options? Have you decided that returning to work after maternity leave part time is the best option, and want a new job opportunity to facilitate it? Get in touch with the Robert Half team, browse the latest job roles or upload your CV today.

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