Returning to a Different Company After Maternity Leave
If you have taken your full 52 week ordinary plus additional maternity leave and are not yet ready or prepared to return to your previous role, you need to think carefully about your plans and their consequences.
You may feel as though your priorities have changed and you no longer wish to work in the same way, you may be prepared to live more frugally so you do not need to work or you may have not been able to find adequate childcare. Whatever your reason, and any reason is perfectly valid, you still need to act in accordance with your employment contract until such times as you are no longer considered an employee.
Before you make the decision to not return to work in the same job as you had prior to your maternity leave, it is worth looking at the options available to see if you may be able to arrange more suitable circumstances without the financial and practical upheaval of leaving your job and perhaps finding another.
Extended Maternity LeaveIn addition to the Statutory Maternity Leave of 6 weeks at 90% pay, you are entitled to 33 weeks paid at £135.45. Check with your HR department to see if you qualify. There is also a great deal of information on the government website to help determine your maternity rights. Following the 26, or 39 weeks statutory leave, you are legally entitled to request a further 26 (or 11) weeks, taking your total to 52 weeks. These additional weeks are not paid, although you remain an employee for this whole time.
Once you have taken your full 52 week maternity leave, you can, if you wish, return to your job. Although the same position needs to only have been kept available for the initial 26 weeks, you are also entitled to return to a job of the same seniority, pay and conditions as your pre-maternity leave position.
You may also request to have a longer period of unpaid leave, although you have no legal right to request this and your employer does not have to consider it. This is only acceptable if both the employer and employee are happy with their newly arranged conditions.
Flexible WorkingAll women who return to work after maternity leave have a legal right to request flexible working. Although their employers do not have to grant it, they do have to show that they have tried everything possible to allow flexible working. The employer is entitled to have six weeks to reach this decision, although many try to complete this in a more timely fashion.
Flexible working can include choosing to work part time, having greater control over your working hours and being able to work around your childcare provision. This can afford you are far more appealing work/life balance, as you arrange to arrive at work after you have taken your children to school, nursery or their childminder, rather than wrestle with the daily stress.
ResignationIf you have weighed up all the options and still come to the conclusion that you wish to resign, it is important to inform your employer as soon as possible. You can write to them if you do not want face to face contact. There are many websites and employment advisory services that ca help you to write a letter or email.
When you hand in your resignation, it is legally allowed for you to offer your notice to run alongside your remaining maternity leave, so if you have a months notice in your contract, this can also count as your final month of maternity leave.