With all this new and important information under your belt, it is time to think about the particulars of your maternity leave. Here are some points to consider:
- Think through your options carefully: There's no rush to decide right away. If you jump into expressing your thoughts too soon, you risk looking unorganized later if you change your mind. A couple of options may include beginning your leave a few weeks before your actual due date by using your disability plan, or cutting back your hours a couple of weeks prior to the due date. Find out what possibilities are available before making any decisions.
- Keep your leave date open if at all possible. It's not uncommon to deliver two weeks after your due date.
- Ask for more time than you think you'll need: You may be surprised to find that you'd like more time after the baby is born. And, you can always ask to return earlier to work if the opposite is true.
- Consider the views of others: Offer solutions to loopholes that may occur while you're on leave. You will probably have to train someone to handle your duties while you're away.
- Document your plan: Never rely strictly on your memory when covering, what can be, emotional issues.
If a maternity leave policy does not exist at your company, it's in your best interest to discuss, with the appropriate people, the benefits of having one. Both surprising and unfortunate, the United States is behind many other countries with regard to guaranteeing some sort of parental leave. Only 40 percent of working women in the United States are even eligible for parental leave, and those that are usually only receive six weeks off, unpaid. In several other countries, the father is entitled to an extensive leave as well as the mother, sometimes up to a month.
If you find yourself having to convince your company to adopt a policy, touch on money-saving benefits like higher morale and lower turnover rates. Not to mention the fact that companies that have a policy are more likely to recruit more desirable female employees. After all, competition for good people these days can be fierce.