Career advice

How to prepare for maternity leave

You’ve told your parents, your granny and the man in the corner shop that you’re pregnant. Now you need to tell your boss.

You’ve got nine months – what’s the hurry?

Start preparing as early as possible. It’ll be one less thing for you to worry about… and it’ll give the office plenty of time to set up a sweepstake and send the kitty round.
You must formally tell your employer by the end of the 15th week before your baby is due and the date you want your maternity leave to start. Your boss is going to need as much time as possible to make plans and provisions for your absence, particularly finding the right person to fill your shoes for a few months.

How long can you take vs. how long will you take?

You can take as long as 52 weeks off and you can choose to start your maternity leave any time in, or after, the 11th week before your baby is due. You can decide to return as soon as two weeks after the birth (four weeks if you’re a factory worker). It depends entirely on you, your birth, your health and your baby’s health. Do what feels right – your home and work life will be all the better for it.

Just before you head off for your maternity leave

Start keeping detailed notes for whoever is filling in for you. Hopefully this can prevent you from having to return to plies of work, lots of mistakes or strained relationships.
Tie up loose ends. If you work until late into your pregnancy, it’s probably a good idea to start leaving every evening as if you might not be back in the morning - maybe pop a post-it on your screen to let your boss, colleagues or replacement know where you were up to the previous day.
Make it clear how much contact you’d like with work while you’re away, whether that’s none, some, or as much as possible.

See you soon

Once you’ve figured out how to prepare for maternity leave, you can enjoy your last few days – open presents, have lunch and prepare for your departure. Your employer and HR are just at the end of the phone if you have any questions while you’re away.