Returning to work after maternity leave

Sep 2011
Returning to work after maternity leave
The key to working through this period is making sure that you have enough support around you

Returning to work after having a child is a difficult step for a new mother. The highs and lows of giving birth will be firmly in the past and the date to go back draws ever nearer. There are several issues to explore. Returning parents need to be aware of their legal rights as their jobs should be protected under Statutory Law. Also, there are practical and emotional issues involved in the return to work.

The Statutory Law relating to Maternity Leave states that a mother is entitled to return to her job after leave and have the same pay and conditions. There are exceptions to this rule and they can be looked at in more detail at

Going back to work can be exhausting for many mothers. The whole balance of life changes and separation from your baby can be an emotionally fraught time. The key to working through this period is making sure that you have enough support around you. This is the element that will ease the transition from full time mother to working mother. Support can come from partners, relatives or outside sources such childcare providers.

Being ultra organised will also help you to cope with the new challenge. Running out of nappies at midnight will not help the smooth running of the house. Also, remember that your baby has to adapt to these changes too so you should take steps to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible.

Easing yourself back into work, rather than jumping in at the deep end may also help to ease the transition into the adult world of work. Many employers will be happy for their new parents to start back to work by working part time or a gradual timetable. If the opportunity presents itself, it may be worth considering staggering the return to work.

It is a challenging time for new mothers. However, for some people, going back to work is a wonderful thing. Being able to think about work rather than the next feed comes as a refreshing surprise for some. A popular quote from returning mothers is "I go to work for a rest." This highlights the other advantage of escaping from the intense, exhausting work of entertaining a toddler versus the adult world of work. Motherhood can also be very isolating and the banter or friendships that develop at work are an important part of socialising for many people.