Top 5 Important Questions you Must Ask Employer about Maternity Leave

When to Talk To HR/Employer about Maternity Leave

If you are an expectant working mom, the topic of maternity leave with your HR or supervisor is inevitable. At some point, you will have to discuss with your HR or employer about your maternity leave, duration or benefits among others. 

Talking to your HR or employer about your maternity leave is very important. It allows you to prepare at work to start your maternity leave , your options while on maternity leave and also returning. As such there are so many questions that you may have about maternity leave that needs to be answered by HR.

Therefore the earlier you can have a conversation with your HR about your maternity leave the better. The best time to talk to your HR about your maternity leave is not later than three months before you are due. Three months, which is when you are 5-6 months pregnant, which allows you and your employer get adequate time to prepare for your absence and coverage. 

Yes, you can have the conversation about your maternity leave earlier than this depending on the complexity of your position. You can discuss your maternity leave as early as when you are 3,4, or 5 months pregnant. The earlier you can talk about all things maternity leave, the better.

Also, you can start talking about your maternity soon after you have alerted or informed your boss or employer about your pregnancy.  It is very important that you let your employer or HR know about your pregnancy as soon as possible. 

Read: How and When to Inform HR about your Pregnancy

How the maternity leave conversation with your HR goes is crucial. The best way is to bring up the conversation directly to your HR and/or employer. You can do this is through email, letter, phone call or physical office.

Book a physical meeting as it gives you ample time to ask all your questions and seek clarifications.While a phone call or email is still sufficient, a one-on-one conversation is the best option to talk over your maternity leave.

You may not get all the information you need during the first meeting. You can always ask more questions and clarifications on your maternity leave later at any particular time. You are going to have SO many questions after the first meeting with your HR so it’s expected you will need more information and clarification soon after.

If possible have everything in writing. You can email your HR to confirm that your understanding of your maternity leave is correct. You can then keep this information as a reference in the future should something contradictory happen. 

Top 5 Important Questions you Must Ask Employer about Maternity Leave

Important Questions you Must Ask Employer about Maternity Leave

1. Ask What Maternity Leave Benefits Entitled to You

Some of the key things most working expectant moms are interested in are the maternity benefits the employer has to offer. Some of what you will ask HR when planning maternity leave includes the benefits you are entitled to at your workplace. 

Except for the basic minimum pay that is required by law, the employer may add more and offer a benefits package. You hence need to ask HR about what you are entitled to in terms of maternity leave benefits so that you can claim them.  Ask what benefits you are getting when you proceed on maternity leave.

Some benefits offered by employers during maternity leave include a bonus, monetary gifts, health insurance, and stipends among others. 

However you need to ask your HR if there is any payback policy related to these benefits. Some employers may require you to come back to work for a certain period of time or otherwise, you may be required to repay some of these benefits to the employer.

Read: How to Quit Work During or After Maternity Leave

2. Ask HR if Your Job Guaranteed after Maternity Leave

What you can ask HR when planning maternity leave is if you will have your job back you return. Depending on where you live, how long you have worked, and your employer, your job may or may not be protected when you proceed for maternity leave. Therefore enquire from your employer about the security of your job when you go on maternity leave.

In some states, your job may be protected by law. For instance, FMLA gives 12 weeks of job protection but only covers certain jobs and workplaces. In such a case, your employer is obligated to keep your job for a certain period of time until you are back from maternity leave. 

However, if you go past the allotted time, your job is no longer protected. Consider whether you would be okay financially if you didn’t get your job back. You need to find out from your HR about this and how long they can hold the job for you once you start your maternity leave. 

Some employers do not offer protection on your job and will replace you once you start your maternity leave. You will therefore have no job to come back to after your maternity leave is over. In this case, you need to know from your HR whether your job is protected.

Read: Maternity Leave Benefits in California 

3. Confirm the Length of your Maternity Leave

Another key question to ask your HR about your maternity leave is its duration. What you must ask HR or your supervisor as your prepare for maternity leave is the length of the maternity leave. You need to know how long you can go for your maternity leave.

Nonetheless, the duration of your maternity leave depends on so many factors.  Legally, there is a minimum set of days that your employers should offer you maternity leave days with job protection. You should ask your HR about this as well as find out what your state offers.

The leave may be longer if you have remaining days from your personal time off (PTO), etc. Some employers may offer their employer a longer maternity leave, but unpaid. With a combo of paid/unpaid time off, you can get some decent time for maternity leave.

4. Ask If your Maternity Leave is Paid or Unpaid

Knowing if your maternity leave will be paid or not is very important. Find out from your employer or HR whether you are entitled to a paid maternity leave or not. If you are on paid maternity, ask your employer how much you are getting.

Being on a paid or unpaid leave depends on where you live and your employer. Legally your employer is obligated to pay a certain amount for a certain period.

It is important to ask your HR this so you prepare adequately financially. Some states only guarantee 8 weeks of unpaid maternity leave. However, you need to have worked for a certain minimum of time to qualify.

Read: What to do if you Get Unpaid Maternity Leave

5. Confirm any Job-Related Changes after Maternity Leave

Another crucial question you need to ask your HR relating to your maternity leave is any expected changes to your job.What you need to ask HR or the employer when planning maternity leave is whether you will retain the same position, hours, access, etc. upon returning from maternity leave.

Being away on maternity leave is a long time and may necessitate some changes in the office. Supposing that your job is protected and you come back to work, ask if there are expected changes in the future.

Some changes may include a change in office, a change in position, or duties among others. You need to ask on possible plans or restructuring changes triggered by your absence during the maternity leave. The answer to this question will help decide if you will come back to work after your maternity leave is over. 

When to Start Preparing For Maternity Leave at Work

The best time to start preparing for maternity leave is about three months before the start of your maternity leave. It can be earlier than this if your position is complex and you have a lot to prepare for before starting your maternity leave.

For instance a top management positions may require you to start preparing for your maternity leave as early as when you are 5 months pregnant.

On the other hand, some jobs may not require a long time to prepare for . If you are easily replaceable in your position, you do not need three months to start preparing. You can start preparing for maternity leave in as little time as 4 weeks. 

Expert Checklist: Things you Must Do in Advance before Maternity Leave

Things you Must Do in Advance before Maternity Leave

Some of the things you need to do in preparation for your maternity leave include; 

1. Train your Replacement in Preparation for Maternity Leave 

Ensure that the person relieving you of your duties when you are on maternity leave is well-trained and capable of wearing your shoes. Schedule a transition schedule whereby you will allow the replacement to take over work gradually until they are capable of handling work alone. 

2. Fill out Maternity Leave Papers

Ensure that you apply and fill out all maternity leave-related papers at your HR. They are especially important in claiming your benefits. For instance, you need to fill out the form that is required for extended leave with your HR & my supervisor.

The extended form for maternity leave outlines, your final day at work before your leave start, your first day at work returning from your leave, and the type of leave you are taking.

3. Finish Pending Tasks

Ensure that you have completed the pending projects that are dependent on your input. If there are some pending tasks that only you can complete, try to complete them before you start your maternity leave

4. Clear your Desk before you Start Maternity Leave

If someone else will be using your desk when you are on leave, you may want to clear it off your personal items. Gather away your too personal and sentimental items before you start your maternity leave. You can take them home and bring them back once you are coming back to work from maternity leave. 

Related Articles

Quitting or Taking an Early Maternity Leave 

How to Spend your Maternity Leave 

What to do After Getting Fired During or After Maternity Leave

How to Prepare for Maternity Leave

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