Hollie Russell, Head of Customer Marketing at Powwownow
Sometimes the internet is our best friend, offering advice on almost every topic under the sun exactly when it’s needed most. But when it comes to maternity leave and how to prepare for it, there are so many conflicting pieces of advice out there it’s hard for first time mums to know where to start. These are the top things I wish I’d known when preparing for maternity leave.
There’s a deadline for MATB1 forms
The MATB1 form is the key piece of paperwork you need when working out maternity leave arrangements and it has to be given to your boss no later than 25 weeks into your pregnancy. When I looked this up I had only one day left to hand it in! Understanding the timeline of things you need to do before you go away is important as there isn’t much clarity on this.
Understand your company’s maternity policy
Each company’s maternity policy will be different, but all companies have to have one. I knew ours had recently been circulated so would be in my emails somewhere. Knowing how to budget for the coming months both before and after the baby is born is really important, and it’s difficult to do this without knowing what your company’s maternity policy allows. It’s vital to understand what maternity means outside the statuary business processes.
Technology is essential for keeping in touch
Luckily, working for a tech company means I can work remotely anywhere so long as I have a laptop, internet access, a phone line, and collaboration tools. This has provided real flexibility for managing important appointments around key projects. When I do go on maternity leave, having this technology infrastructure as the norm will be key in enabling me to stay in touch and to come back to the job afterwards. It’s important not to cut yourself out of the business while you’re away, and technology is central to ensuring this.
Be clear with your seniors around career progression
Being open and transparent with your boss about where you see your professional development going once you’re back is an essential part of planning for maternity leave. Both sides should be as open and transparent as possible from the start. Your work should speak for itself but you should articulate what you want to achieve in the long run.
Prepare your team for when you do go on leave
As well as thinking long term about your own progression, you need to ensure your team is well prepared for when you leave – this may take more time than you expect. You may need external agency support or to ask your existing team to take a step up in terms of responsibility. What’s important is that both you and your team are happy when you do go on maternity leave and that you leave knowing projects will be completed to a high standard.
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