Planning for maternity leave can bring on a wide variety of feelings. Some mothers-to-be feel daunted by the idea of ensuring everything is covered, while others feel that their due date is so far away there’s no need to address anything just yet (even into the third trimester.) And there are expecting moms at every other option along the spectrum in between those two endpoints.
But, creating a maternity leave plan before it’s actually needed is not only great for you—it’s something your coworkers, manager and company will appreciate to no end.
Use this handy checklist to determine what you should include in your maternity leave plan!
Maternity leave checklist
1. Know your rights
From your company to your state, there are a few places to look to see what rights you have during your maternity leave.
Find out your company’s benefits.
Look into the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), short-term disability and your state’s laws.
2. Let people know you are expecting
Come up with a plan for who you will tell about your pregnancy and how you’ll let them know.
General rule of thumb: your boss should be the first person at work to know.
Approach this with your best foot forward. Pregnancy is joyful, exciting news and should be delivered as such.
The best resources will be others that have been in a similar position.
If possible, talk with a trusted colleague that has recently gone on maternity leave, or had someone on their team do so. Ask for advice on how they planned, what they would have changed and any other feedback they can provide.
4. Create your maternity leave plan
This can be a physical or electronic document. Just make sure it can be easily shared with others.
Your start and end dates
How much time you plan to take off
Who is covering your responsibilities while you are out (and a list of said responsibilities for each person involved)
How accessible you’ll be while out (and the best way to reach you)
How you expect to transition back to work
Logistics (any important log in information, deadlines you are working against, etc.)
Recurring meetings (client meetings, direct report one-on-ones, etc.)
Direct reports and their main responsibilities
Approvals (expense reports, product shipping, copy for newsletters, and so on)
Information flow (who do you get important information from and who do you share it with)
Other/Misc. Information (anything else that relates to your day-to-day task - a good way to see these items is to spend a week or two noting anything that comes up that someone else should know about while you are out.)
5. Share your maternity leave plan
Your maternity leave plan should be shared with anyone that is taking over your responsibilities while you are out and your manager at a minimum.
Create a physical or shared document others can access easily.
Set up official meetings with anyone impacted by your maternity leave.
Share your maternity leave plans with any outside contacts or clients that need to know.
6. Be prepared for any surprises
Create an if-I-go-into-labor-at-work document and share it with a few trusted colleagues just to be safe. Include the following information:
Where you plan to deliver
The phone number of your OB-GYN, doula, midwife, etc.
Any emergency contact numbers
7. Set yourself up for a successful return
There's a few things you can do now to help you prepare for your return from maternity leave:
Set up a clear out of office message.
Unsubscribe from any regular newsletters or e-mail lists that you're on.
Explore childcare options ahead of time.
Don’t make to-do lists for during your maternity leave. Don’t plan on any projects for work or home - taking care of your new baby and yourself should be the main focus during your maternity leave.
Document everything, from your maternity leave plan to your benefits, from your doctor’s advice/recommendations to any details discussed with your company, manager or team. It’s better to have a record in an easy-to-find spot of anything related to your maternity leave.
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