By DebbieH 21 Jan 2019 7 min read

Easing yourself back in to work after maternity leave

Heading back to work after maternity leave? It’s a big step after bringing a child into the world and spending every day for the last year (or thereabouts) devoted it. But now it’s time to return to the workplace and rediscover your drive for your job.

Below, we’ve put together a list of things you can expect with regards to returning to work post maternity leave. Hopefully they’ll help ease you back in to the busy working day!


Do I have to notify my employer about my return to work?

Prior to your time away on maternity leave, your employer should have agreed your return date with you – although this can be changed closer to the time if your circumstances change. In this event, your employer should be notified 8 weeks before you intend to return.

Ordinary Maternity Leave plus Additional Maternity Leave states that you are legally entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave, at which time you will be expected to return. You do of course have the option of taking less than this, and will simply need to inform your employer.


What happens if my job has changed?

Your job may have changed slightly while you have been away. You do have the right to return back to work to the same job, on the same terms and conditions, but sometimes the changes are necessary for an organisation to make, so you many need to adapt to a slightly different role.

If this happens, don’t worry – your employer must offer you alternative work with the same terms and conditions as if you hadn’t been away – and the terms and conditions should be as good as the role you had previously.

If your role is made redundant while you are on maternity leave, you should be offered a suitable job as a replacement.


Will being away affect my pay conditions?

Being away on maternity leave should not affect your opportunity to earn any pay rises or improvements in t&c’s for your job that too place while you were absent.


Will I still be entitled to annual leave?

While you are on maternity leave your holiday entitlement builds up the same as it would if you were at the office. Some women add it on to their maternity leave, but if you haven’t done this, you’re still entitled to take whatever is remaining on your annual leave.


Am I entitled to a flexible working pattern?

You are entitled to request a flexible working pattern if you have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks prior to maternity leave. This can help you find the appropriate balance caring for your child and work. Your employer must consider your request and respond to you in writing.

Note: You have the right to ask for this, but it’s not guaranteed that you can have it – this is at the employer’s discretion.


What is parental leave and will I get this?

Worked at the same company for more than 12 months? Then you can take up to 18 weeks’ unpaid leave for each child, up to their 18th birthday in most cases.

Parental leave covers a number of areas. for example, you might use it to: 

  • Searching for a new school for your child
  • Spending quality time with your child
  • Spending time visiting family with your child
  • Settling your child into new childcare arrangements

It doesn’t have to be used in one period of time, but must be used in one week-long blocks, unless your child has a disability. The most each parent can take each year is up to 4 weeks per child, unless you have agreed an alternative with your employer.



Returning to work gives you the opportunity to get a part of yourself back that you had before maternity leave. Take this time to get yourself back in to the routine of preparing for work e.g. batch cooking meals, ironing your clothes for the week, transport for work etc. Being as prepared as you can will help ease you back in to every day grind of full-time work (even part-time work will be a shock to the system at first). Below are a few other things you can do to get yourself back in to the routine.

Refresh your wardrobe

You may have been sticking to comfort over style during your time off, so a refresh of your wardrobe could be the transformation you need to give your confidence a boost before you head back to work. Treat yourself to a new outfit for your first day, and take some time to revisit your pre-pregnancy outfits as an option!


Simulate your return to work beforehand

Have a dry run before you actually return to work so it’s not as much a shock to the system when it actually happens. Set your alarm, get up and get dressed, and test how long it takes you from childcare to work at the time you would normally do it. This helps you adjust to the likes of traffic etc. for your first day, and get a better understanding of what needs to be done before you leave for work.Trust us, you’ll feel much better on the day, knowing you’ve already done it all previously.


Take it easy…

Getting used to the idea of being away from your newborn isn’t easy. Diving in to the deep end could be difficult, so you do have alternatives that can help ease the process.

Use holiday accrued during your mat leave to phase a return to full time work. Maybe work two or three days a week and use your leave for the other remaining days? Try to begin your return to work mid-week so that you only have two to three days before your first weekend break. Doing this will help you look after yourself e.g. emotionally and physically, as well as being able to spend time with your child regularly.


Catch up with a colleague

Returning to work means reconnecting with your old work friends! It’s always nice to see old faces again, so catch up with them before you head back to work, and find out what’s been happening while you’ve been away. 


Don’t feel guilty! 

Leaving your child at home (or with someone else) is always hard at first. But try to embrace being back at work doing the job you love Millions of mums have returned to work after maternity leave, and went on to be both a fantastic mother and outstanding employee. Don’t feel guilty, or focus on the negatives – the adjustment period is a finite one – and you’ll be back at home with your little one in no time!