Thinking about your maternity leave should start as soon as you find out you're pregnant. It may not be the most exciting topic to talk about during your pregnancy, but it's an important one. Setting yourself up for a successful transition — both away from and back to work — will pay off in many ways. But before you can enjoy the reward of your hard work, the first step is to gather questions to ask HR about maternity leave. Prioritizing this task may be the easiest way to get the maternity leave that you want.
Most companies have a maternity leave policy, but you probably never thought about reading it until you learned you had a bun in the oven. Dig into what's being offered and then compare it with what you would like your maternity leave to be like. Start drafting a list of concerns and questions and make an appointment to chat with HR. You may be surprised to find that your employer will grant your requests, within reason.
To get you started on a successful talk with your employer, consider these 13 questions to ask HR about maternity leave, so you can enjoy your time off while having peace of mind about work.
1. Will My Maternity Leave Be Paid?
By law, companies must allow pregnant employees to take maternity leave after giving birth, but not all time off is paid. Check with your employer on their policy, to find out if some, all, or none of your leave will be paid.
2. Can I Take Additional Time Off?
Since every company has a different maternity leave policy, it's important to ask in advance about the possibility of additional time. As Parents magazine suggested, working closely with your employer to customize a plan for your maternity leave will help set you up to take more days, should you need or want them after your baby is born.
3. Do I Have To Use PTOs?
When negotiating the terms of your leave, find out if any extra days you choose to take will come out of your paid time off bank. Some companies may only allow extra days if you use your accrued time off to supplement, so asking ahead is always in your best interest.
4. Do You Offer Telecommuting?
More and more companies are offering telecommuting as an option for their employees. The key with this, is to tackle this subject in advance, instead of springing it on your boss during your maternity leave, according to Working Mother.
5. What Is The Longest Leave Possible?
If your doctor has given you a reason to believe there may be complications or special needs — for either you or your child — after giving birth, ask HR what the maximum amount of time allowed off would be, without jeopardizing your job.
6. Will You Contact Me With Big News?
If opportunities for advancement or big changes are happening while you are on maternity leave, you want to be kept in the loop. Let your boss know you would like to be in communication until you return to work, either via email or phone. Just because you are not in the office, doesn't mean you should be left out of office events that could effect your position upon return, according to Parents.
7. Can We Sign An Aggreement?
Get some ideas down on paper about what you want your maternity leave to look like and consider drafting a maternity leave contract. This is an agreement between you and your company that spells out the agreed upon terms of your time off, specific to you.
8. What Are My Benefits?
According to What To Expect's website, many women on maternity leave qualify for short term disability (STD), which offers benefits while you're not working. There are many variations of STD, so check with your company to see what they offer.
9. How Do I Add My Baby To My Health Insurance?
If you receive health insurance through your employer, find out the protocol for adding your new baby. As Everyday Family pointed out, you don't want to assume your baby will automatically be added to your insurance, so consult with your HR before you take your leave.
10. Could I Transition To Flex Time?
Maybe you are considering stepping back from work for a while after your baby is born. If cutting back your hours in something you would consider, ask your boss if your position could be on a more part-time or flexible schedule. There might be options that you weren't aware existed.
11. Is My Job Secure?
Before you talk to HR, make sure to familiarize yourself with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) so you know how the law protects you and your job. According to the FMLA, you cannot be fired during your maternity leave, a right which is protected by law.
12. Is There Special Paperwork?
You may need to fill out some paperwork in order to take your leave, so make sure to double check before you have the baby that all your ducks are in a row.
13. Do You Offer On-Site Child Care?
One of the biggest issues working mothers deal with is child care. Before digging into options, ask if your company offers a chid care option. According to Working Mother magazine, the number of companies who offer on-site child care is about nine percent, but more employer may be catching on to the trend.