Going back to work after a baby

As if being a mum isn’t enough to cope with, there’s the question of work to sort out too. The extra expense of a baby means most mums need the money, so often staying at home full-time isn’t an option. It also could be that, while you love your baby, you find you’re missing adult company and the stimulation your job brings.

Whatever your feelings about work, there’s a whole range of questions mums-to-be face, starting with your maternity leave entitlement. The Working Families Act means all women will be entitled to paid maternity leave of nine months instead of six (rising to 12 months by 2010). Plus, you’ll be entitled to take a further 26 weeks of unpaid additional maternity leave (AML), even if you’re new to your job.

Another new element of the law is the introduction of Keeping In Touch Days. Karen Black, partner and employment-law expert at law firm Boodle Hatfield, explains that these are an optional 10 days during maternity leave when you can go into work or do some work for your employer to help ease you back into the job. It won’t affect your maternity pay, you’ll still keep that.

‘They’ll require planning on both sides, but should be a good way of making maternity leave and the eventual return to work run smoothly. But you don’t have to take them, and your employer won’t be allowed to discriminate against you if you choose not to,’ says Black.