Going on maternity leave?

Here are six things you should know

Tell your boss first. Although you may be eager to share the news of your pregnancy with colleagues, talk to your boss first.

Tell your boss first. Although you may be eager to share the news of your pregnancy with colleagues, talk to your boss first.

Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 14:08

Having a baby is certainly a happy occasion, but leaving a job for the statutory 26 week can be stressful.

Here are six things you can do to be sure that you’ve prepared adequately for your absence. When planning to go on maternity leave, it’s important to take ownership of the process in order to ensure a smooth transfer of responsibilities before you leave, and when you come back. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Know your rights. In the Republic you are entitled to 26 weeks paid maternity leave and a further 16 weeks unpaid.

2. Develop a game plan. Prepare a list of your core responsibilities, dividing them into the tasks that can be assumed by others and those that aren’t so easy to delegate, such as client relationships, expertise-related functions, and mentorship of those in your team. Begin to think about which subordinates, peers and superiors might be best suited to each role.

3. Tell your boss first. Although you may be eager to share the news of your pregnancy with colleagues, talk to your boss first. And, if you intend to come back to work, make that immediately clear; emphasise that you’re a committed employee who wants to return.

4. Get support from colleagues. Talk candidly with your co-workers, particularly those who report to you, and let them know this is an opportunity for them to step up and assume responsibilities that may have otherwise been months or years away. Listen to any concerns and be open to the possibility of changing your plan if someone expresses interest or shows aptitude for a particular role.

5. Communicate clearly with clients and customers. Reach out to external parties as soon as possible. Set up a time to introduce them to people who will be their contacts in your absence.

6. Stay in touch. While it’s perfectly within your rights to be incommunicado, not everyone feels comfortable being completely out of touch during leave. A more practical approach is to maintain contact in a way that’s convenient for you, either by email or perhaps with a short call each week.