Annabel: There is no doubt about it that having a baby is a very big event in a woman’s life. From an employer’s point of view though, it is can be just another thing they need to work around and deal with. Some employers find this really difficult to deal with on a practical level and uncertainty about whether a woman will really return from leave a year later can make some bosses withdraw from the relationship. This can make the woman feel she is not welcome to return and set off a spiral of ‘disengagement’ that can make it hard for both parties.
Laura: Having a good handover and return to work plan can really help. Discuss this with your boss and showing that you are planning to make things as easy for them as you can.. Keep talking – even when you are on leave. If you don’t get on with your boss get someone in your office that you trust to keep you up to speed with changes and projects.
Annabel: Your boss is not the only person you may find yourself liaising with at this point. Whenever your baby is due your partner is entitled to up to two weeks’ paternity leave. They can take this to coincide with the birth or within the next eight weeks. They need to sort this out with their boss and make the appropriate requests. If your baby is due after 3 April 2011, your partner may also take up to six months additional paternity leave if you return from maternity leave early. In a nutshell, he can take the rest of your leave (to a maximum of six months) when you go back to work … and if you go back to work before your statutory maternity pay is finished, he will also get paid (at the same rate and for the same period as your outstanding statutory maternity pay). Your partner has to give at least eight weeks notice to their employer before they can start the leave, and there are other processes to go through and conditions that he must meet. You have to give at least eight weeks notice if you want to come back before your year is up. Although you don’t have to do this before the baby is born, you need to start talking about what you want to do, how it will affect you financially and emotionally. If you really are planning for your partner to take the final six months of leave, then it would be a good idea to mention this informally to your boss so they know that you may want to come back early and make suitable cover arrangements.
Laura: I have one client in particular who is waiting for the Paternity leave to be extended in order to start a family. They cannot wait to start a family and it makes far more financial sense for him to be the main caregiver. However without the new paternity rights it would have been difficult for him to take the extra leave and return to his job. I am excited by the changes which I feel will really benefit family units. Both partners get to experience the highs and lows of being a parent and will be far more supportive of their partner knowing the full story. More families are having to adapt to a new way of working and roles are no longer clearly defined in the home. Even feeding breast milk can be continued (although in a bottle) when Mum is away as companies become even better at providing facilities to express milk for nursing mothers.
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Posted by Annabel Kaye on 12/04/2011 12:11:01
Jackie Groundsell is known as the queen of women's business networking lunches - the connector. She supports thousands of small business owners through her events and lunch-time meetings