Finding out that you are becoming a first time mum can be a very daunting but exciting new adventure that you are about to embark on. There are so many questions you may ask yourself, especially in regards to your work life, and how to approach this situation.
When should I go on maternity leave? How long does it take? Will I return to work after the maternity leave? How will I approach my employer?
I am very lucky to be a part of a whole bunch of mothers in my work environment at Trinity Employment Services, who have all been through the same situation and, therefore, have given me a lot of helpful advice. So I'll share with you some of what I've learned along the way.
The number one piece of advice that I have been given is to ensure you take some time off before the baby is due, so you can enjoy your last few moments of being on your own. Before you know it, you will have a wee baby in your arms relying on you 24/7. After a lot of discussion, I have decided to start my maternity leave when I am 37 weeks pregnant. This means I'll have at least 1-3 weeks of time off work before the baby is supposed to arrive, giving me lots of time to rest up in preparation for childbirth. I recommend you give yourself plenty of time before the baby arrives to rest and prepare, making the transition into motherhood much easier for yourself.
As per the employment law, you are entitled to take up to 52 weeks of parental leave if you've been working for at least 6 months and at least 10 hours a week. In the first 26 weeks you may receive government-funded parental leave payments while caring for your newborn baby. The remaining 26 weeks of extended leave would be unpaid, but it's up to you, in agreement with your employer, to decide the amount of extended leave you'll take. If you are wanting to know how much income you will receive through the first 26 weeks, you can check IRD's website.
When you are at the stage to share your exciting news with your employer, it is a good time to schedule a meeting with them to talk about preparing for leaving work and also planning your return to work. Communication is the most important factor while you are going through this journey as this can be very different for each woman. You may decide that the date you had previously discussed about being your first day of maternity leave needs to be brought closer or further away due to sudden changes. It is important to let your employer know as soon as you make these decisions, so they can support you through them. Most companies will understand these dates can change due to different factors.
Once it's time to return to work, talk to your employer so you can do this gradually. You could either do part-time hours for a few weeks, or set up work from home arrangements to help build up your normal work routine. Your baby comes first and work comes second. If you are a good employee and are meeting your employer's expectations, it is very likely that your managers will be very understanding and helpful during this transition.
I am very excited to be going through this transition in my life and I am sure if you are pregnant you are equally as excited. If you ever need any helpful tips or someone to chat to in regards to navigating working while pregnant or how to approach your employer, feel free to reach out to us at Trinity Employment Services. We have plenty of mothers that have done this all before and can provide a friendly ear to listen!
- Maggie Miller, Senior Recruitment Consultant at Trinity (and on her third trimester of pregnancy).