Deciding whether to take maternity leave can be a challenging decision for expectant mothers. They may be excited to spend time with their newborns, but also concerned about how taking time off will impact their careers. There are a variety of factors to consider, including whether they can afford to take time off, how their employer’s leave policies work, and how to balance work and family life after returning to work.
Stereotypes also add to these concerns. For instance, some assume that employees who take maternity leave are not fully committed to their professional growth and that having a baby will make them less productive. As a result of this, some colleagues even give them a hard time when they return to work and don’t support them as expected.
Additionally, different states and organizations have different laws and policies around maternity leave, which can further complicate the decision. As a result, expectant mothers need to research their options and make a decision that is right for them and their families. With careful planning and consideration, it is possible to balance work and family life while still enjoying this special time with a new baby.
In this article we explore the meaning behind maternity leave, why it is essential for both expectant employees and the company alike, its entitlement conditions and so much more insights for expectant mothers.
What is maternity leave?
Maternity leave is the time off from work taken by an employed mother after the birth or adoption of a child. During this time, the new mother is not expected to do any of her regular work duties, but rather, to focus on bonding with her child and healing physically and emotionally. This type of leave guarantees the employee the right to go back to her original work position upon completion of her leave.
Maternity leave timing and length differs based on several factors such as your organization’s leave policies, how long you’ve been employed there, state laws, the well-being of the mother and her financial state. Normally, the expectant mother is expected to take at least two weeks off work before her due date and then a minimum of four weeks of maternity leave after the birth of the child.
What are the benefits of maternity leave?
Taking maternity leave is essential for several reasons.
Firstly, maternity leave offers the new mother more time to form a bond with the baby, which is important for their health and development purposes. This uninterrupted time allows the mother to get to know her child’s preferences and needs, and the baby can also get more familiarized with the mother which will further strengthen their attachment over time.
Most new mothers tend to experience postpartum depression which is often a combination of physical and emotional factors. Hormonal changes after birth, lack of sleep, and social isolation can all contribute to feelings of sadness, anxiety, and low self-esteem. New mothers may feel overwhelmed and like they are failing in their new role. However, taking time off from work-related duties can allow new mothers to rest, recover, and receive support, which can reduce stress and improve mental health.
After giving birth, the mother needs to recover from physical ailments and emotional problems. Taking a maternity leave allows the mother to recover both psychologically and physically, to rest and adjust to being a mother. This can enhance the mother’s general well-being thus leading to a happier and fulfilling family life.
Taking time off work to nurse a new baby is an essential break as it allows the money to get rested enough and prepare herself to return to work. This break also helps the employee to be more enthusiastic when returning to work which will also boost productivity.
Maternity leave does not only benefit expectant employees and their children. It is also important for the organization. Having clear, fair and relevant policies in place can make employees feel valued and supported which might motivate them to have high morale, and remain loyal, and hardworking for the company. Additionally, this helps to save resources that could have been spent on recruitment and training. On top of that, it ensures that the company retains top talent and expertise which is very essential in today’s competitive job market.
Working mothers have unique experiences and perspectives which helps to bring more diversity into the workplace. This can then result in better decision-making and innovation.
How to claim maternity co-leave?
Whether you are eligible for maternity pay or not depends on your statutory laws and leave policies. You should contact your employer to get an updated leave policy and any other benefits. Generally, if you are planning to take maternity leave, you have to inform your employer as early as possible. In most cases, you will need to give at least 15 weeks’ notice before your due date, and your employer may request you to write an application which will then be confirmed within 28 days.
Moreover, it is also helpful to use a maternity planner to stay organized and ensure you claim your leave at the appropriate time. When informing your employer, be sure to provide proof of your pregnancy which is normally a letter from your medical officer.
Issues of payments and benefits also depend on various factors that we already discussed earlier. If you are in the UK and you qualify for Statutory maternity pay, your employer should confirm the details of your statutory maternity pay and leave in writing within 28 days. The amount you receive will be based on your previous average earnings and you must also have been employed for the past 28 weeks. If they determine that you are not eligible for statutory maternity pay, they must provide you with an SMP1 form explaining why within 7 days of making their decision.
In the US the Family and Medical Leave Act doesn’t require employers to pay employees during their maternity leave, instead, you only get the benefit of 12 weeks off plus a guarantee to return to your original position after leave. However, many companies are now pressured to start providing maternity leave benefits as a way of retaining a valuable workforce.
Am I expected to pay back Statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance if I don’t go back to work?
No! You are not expected to pay back these benefits.
How early can I start using my maternity leave?
You can start using your maternity leave from as early as 11 weeks before the due date.
Carrying the baby full term is no small feat. When mothers return to work too soon after having a baby, it can negatively impact their well-being and productivity at work. As such, employers need to offer new mothers sufficient paid maternity leave to enable them to recover physically and emotionally, so they can fully participate in their jobs. Additionally, providing adequate leave can help increase their morale and productivity, which ultimately benefits the whole company.