Having a child is perhaps one of the most important events in a woman's life. Childbirth is such a rewarding experience and the days, months and years that follow will be so as well. For the working woman, a pertinent issue that must be considered is how much maternity leave to take and various aspects surrounding such time off from work. The following paragraphs will lay a basis for answering many of the maternity leave related questions that women have regarding this subject.
How Much Maternity Leave to Take
Prior to determining how long one wishes to take off from work following the birth of the child, it is important to know about the relevant laws surrounding maternity leave. The most relevant law regarding maternity leave is the Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA. The FMLA is a federal law which was enacted in 1993. This act is relevant in workplaces where employers have 50 or more employees and in these instances the employer must allow all eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave from work for various medical and family necessity reasons including maternity leave. In order to be eligible for this type of leave under the FMLA, the employee must have worked for the employer for over 12 months, the workplace must have 50 or more employees, and the individual must have logged at least 1,250 hours with the respective company. During the time away from work, the employer must keep any individual health insurance benefits of the employee intact and must offer the same job or one of equal pay and benefits once the employee returns to the workplace. To learn more about the FMLA it is best to review the act in its entirety but this excerpt provides the gist of the law.
If employed in a specific job that does not fall under the FMLA, it is important to speak directly to the employer or Human Resources department, depending on who handles the requests for leaves of absences. Due to the fact that more and more women these days are working outside of the home and having children, employers tend to be more understanding with regard to this situation.
With regard to a personal decision as to how much maternity leave one should take, it is beneficial to consider various factors including the particular job, how long one feels they want to stay home with the newborn, any financial issues one may face while on maternity leave and how long the employer has granted leave for. Once these factors have been reviewed, the pregnant woman may be able to make a more informed decision regarding the length of time to take off from work. All in all, it is a personal decision that needs to be given extensive thought.
Transitioning Out of the Workplace and Then Back in Again
The transition out of the workplace is another hurdle that must be crossed when taking maternity leave. Prior to going on maternity leave, the pregnant woman should take care of all loose ends. If there is a replacement worker coming in to take the spot of the woman while she is out of the office, it is important that both individuals meet prior to this time if possible. This way the woman going on maternity leave can explain some of the more complex job descriptions and duties to the replacement worker to better enable that individual to take the reigns while filling in. Another thing the woman going on maternity leave should do prior to that time is notify all clients that she will be out of the office for a certain period of time and give the name of her replacement that will be available to answer all questions. Whether the pregnant woman informs the clients of her reason for leaving or simply says she will be out of the office for a few weeks is up to that particular individual and her employer. Should the pregnant woman not be in a position where client contact is necessary or is advised against doing so by the employer for valid reasons, this client contact may be unnecessary. Again, it depends on the job situation and individuals involved. However, the main thing to do prior to leaving is to make sure that everything is in the best possible order.
Once the magical event of childbirth has come and gone and it is time to return to the workplace, there are a few tips on how the new mother should become re-acclimated to her job. If possible, the woman may want to come in to work for a few hours on the weekend prior to the return date in order to have some quiet time to see what she had missed while she was out of the office and get reacquainted with everything. This is a good time to do something like this so as not to be interrupted by a barrage of phone calls and in-office conversations. Also, in order to prepare for the return to the workplace the new mother may want to call into the office the week prior to her return in order to speak to her replacement so she can learn firsthand what had happened during her absence. These are just a few ways to make the transition back into work a bit easier on the new mother.
It is important to know that there is nothing wrong with taking maternity leave and it is something that all women should have access to and take advantage of should they feel it is in their best interest. There is no reason why a woman these days cannot be a wonderful mother and excellent worker all in one.