by Patricia Hughes
Soon after you learn you are pregnant, you will need to think about your job. Will you go back or stay home with the new baby? If you plan to return to your job, you will need to think about your maternity leave. The better you plan your leave, the more you will be able to relax and enjoy your new baby when the time comes. Start planning early in your pregnancy. Figure out how much paid time you have available and how much unpaid time you can afford to take.
Breaking the News to Your Employer
Many expectant mothers worry about telling the boss about a pregnancy. The right time to do this is up to you. Some women tell right away. Others wait until the end of the first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage has decreased. Whenever you decide to share your news, be sure to tell your boss first. Don’t share the news with your co workers before the boss. You want him to hear it from you, not someone else in the company.
When you talk to your boss, you should have a basic plan for your leave. How long do you plan to stay out? Will you leave prior to your due date or work until the baby is born? Do you want to come back full time or part time? Knowing the answers to these basic questions will make the conversation go more smoothly.
What Types of Leave are Available?
Find out what kind of leave is offered by your company. How much time can you take after the baby is born? Ask your boss or human resources representative for information. Investigate all sources of paid and unpaid time off when planning your leave. Find out if any paid leave is offered by the company. If your leave will be unpaid, you will have to figure out how much time you can afford to be away from your job.
There may be a few sources of paid time available to you. Ask if the company offers any paid time off for maternity leave. Is short term disability offered by your state? A few states have this option available. The time limit varies from state to state, so ask your human resources representative about this. Can you use paid sick time or vacation time to finance your leave? Find out how much time you have accrued.
You may qualify for up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993. This act allows parents to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave each year for family related illness. The birth of a child qualifies under this legislation. To qualify, you must be employed by a company with 50 or more employees, or a federal, state or local governmental agency. You must have been at your job for at least 12 months and have worked a minimum of 1250 hours in the last year.
Getting Your Paperwork in Order
Depending on the type of leave, there are probably forms you will need to fill out. Ask your human resources manager what you need to do. Find out the company’s procedure for requesting the time off. How far in advance does this have to be done? There are specific forms for the Family Medical Leave Act. Your company may have forms for you to fill out for paid leave or vacation time. In some cases, you may need forms filled out by your doctor. Take care of this as soon as possible to avoid hassle later in your pregnancy.
Find out who will be covering your job while you are gone. Will it be a temp or someone from another department? Spend some time preparing the person who will be taking over your duties. If at all possible, have the person start a week or so before you plan to leave. This will give you time to train the person in the important tasks needed to cover your job. Ask your boss if this is possible.
Put together a folder or binder with information for your replacement. Include a job description with detailed information about the job. Prepare a calendar with the daily and weekly duties that need to be completed. Write out instructions for doing your job and include important information about clients as well as other contact information your replacement will need. Show the binder to your boss when it’s finished for his or her approval. Spending time preparing to leave will allow you to relax and enjoy the time you have with your new baby.
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