You have planned for everything, for the little bundle of joy who is about to arrive. You have planned to have maternity leave from work, and have got yourself an option of extending it. What most women do not plan for is the impact their pregnancy leave will have on their careers!
If you are going on leave from your job, here are a few things that are sure to happen, and how you can protect yourself from all of these in order to make the best out of your maternity leave.
- Be aware of your rights during pregnancy
All working mothers-to-be in the United States are protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA guarantees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a new mother or father if the company has 50 or more employees. Some states have additional protections that provide paid leave.
In addition to maternity leave, you might be eligible for short-term disability benefits depending on your job and state laws. This pays a percentage of your salary while you’re on leave — usually between 50% and 70%. It’s not available in all states, and it may not be available at every company, but it’s worth asking if you think it could help.
- Before you take a leave: Know your human resources department
Before you take leave, make sure you understand your company’s human resources policy. What kind of leave are you eligible for? How much time will you be able to take off? Does your company offer short-term disability insurance? How long will you receive your normal salary while on leave? What are the chances of being promoted during your absence? Do you have a job waiting for you when you return, or do you need to re-apply?
This is also a great time to build relationships with the people in HR and/or the managers in your department. They may be able to help minimize any negative effects of your leave on your career.
- Take an online course
Enrich your skills by taking an online course and get certified in it. There are many courses that help you brush up on your knowledge and increase your value as a professional. This will not only keep you busy during your pregnancy but will keep you ready for the day when you decide to return to work full-time. If you are from a dental health care background, you can take implant dentistry courses at Implant Success Today to increase your worth.
- After you return: Rebuild your network and expand your skills
When returning from maternity leave, it’s essential that expectant mothers rebuild and expand their networks. Schedule regular lunches with colleagues and industry contacts, join networking and professional organizations, attend seminars or workshops that can help you expand your skills. In this way, women can ensure that they remain current with their specialty and relevant to the workforce.
If you’re a new mom who wants to take some time off for maternity leave but also has plans to go back to work, then you may want to consider taking maternity leave at the conclusion of your current project. Though it might be tempting to start picking up new freelance clients immediately after returning from a leave, you should pause and make sure the timing is right.
In the end, the best way to protect your career while you’re on maternity leave is to make sure that you don’t over-commit yourself in the first place!