Going back to work after having a baby

Estimated read: 10 minutes 

As well as the practical concerns connected with returning to work, such as financial assistance, flexible working, childcare, etc. You may also be thinking about how you will manage with spending less time with your child. 

Key points:

  • Understanding your emotions about going back to work
  • Juggling family life and work 
  • Navigating around the different options of childcare
  • Learning about financial assistance and entitlements 
  • Finding out about your rights for flexible working
newborn baby with mum

The emotional toll

Going back to work after having time off with your new baby can be really difficult for many parents. Although some new parents enjoy getting back into work. For others, it can be really hard to leave your baby to go back to work. It is important to understand the emotions you may be feeling. Some parents feel guilt about leaving, others feel overwhelmed and some feel relieved to have a break.

Whatever you are feeling, it is ok to feel this and it is natural. You have been through a lot over the last few months from carrying your baby, giving birth and living a new life. If you are struggling, talk to friends and family about how you are feeling. Reach out to other new families as you may be able to relate to each other. Buid a good solid support network around you as best you can. 

Managing family life 

The time you do spend with your family can often be filled with lots of time-consuming activities such as cooking dinner, bathing the kids and getting them to bed on time. Try to introduce routines and delegate responsibilities to all family members old enough to help, this way you can save time and spend it doing something enjoyable with your children, from reading them that bedtime story, through to just having a cuddle at the end of a long and hectic day.

Try to ensure that you have a good solid routine to help you and your family even if you are still on maternity leave. This will help you enormously when you do go back to work and it won't be too much of a shock to the system. It may be a case of trial and error until you find a routine that works best for your family life.

Understanding different types of leave

Going back to work after a baby can be daunting enough but finding out what your rights are and what flexibility you are entitled to is important. Employees are entitled to different types of leave related to being a parent:

It is important to try and strike a positive work life balance whether you are working from home or at a workplace. Ensuring you have time for work and time for you and your family is key for a postiive and healthy wellbeing. Read our top tips on work life balance to help you manage this effectively. 

Flexible working

Flexible working is any working pattern that is adapted for the benefit of the individual and that also suits their employer. The types of flexible working include part-time, flexi-time, compressed hours, staggered hours, term time working, job sharing and working from home.  It’s important to remember though, that the rules give people the right to ask for flexible working, not the right to have it. It might also be worth having a chat with your HR Department to see if they are able to make things a little easier for you, or whether they are able to offer you flexible working.  

Once an employer has received a flexible working application, they have a legal duty to consider the request seriously with the aim of deciding whether the business can accommodate the requested work pattern. If the employer agrees, they should give the employee a new contract. Employers may only refuse requests where there is a clear business ground for doing so and must give a written explanation explaining why. Employees have a right to appeal this decision. Employees cannot appeal against the decision if they only disagree with the business reasons for rejecting the application. 

Childcare

Finding suitable childcare is a big decision, and one which depends on your family’s personal needs and circumstances. There are different types of childcare available and it can be confusing what works best for the needs of your family. You may be looking at family or friends to help out.

Looking for reliable childcare is not always easy as there can be a lot of choice available. You may find it helpful to visit www.childcare.co.uk as they have local listings of childminders, nurseries, babysitters and more. Another good way of sourcing childcare is by asking other parents/carers who they use for their children – this way you get a personal recommendation from the people who know best. The National Childminding Association (NCMA) offers free help and advice to parents looking for home-based childcare providers. 

Further resources 

For advice on benefit entitlements, you can use an online benefits calculator from the Gov website. You can also speak to Turn2Us for impartial advice as they help people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help. 

For more information on the various types of leave and benefits you may be entitled to, visit the Working Families website. DirectGov offer some great advice about who can make an application to apply for flexible working

Watch our video on going back to work or staying at home

This page was updated on May 2021

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