Finding out that you are pregnant is fantastic news but then come the practicalities of juggling two jobs – your career and growing a baby!
How to get your maternity leave
You’re entitled to maternity leave if you’re an employee. Check with your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re not sure if that applies to you.
You don’t actually legally need to tell your employer that you are pregnant until 15 weeks but after this you’ll need to tell them;
- that you’re pregnant
- when your baby’s due
- that you want to take maternity leave
- when you want your maternity leave to start and end (you can change these dates later)
It’s best to tell your employer in writing so you have a record. Your employer should confirm the end date of your maternity leave and if they don’t, it’s worth asking them for it to make sure you both have the same date in mind.
Your employer can ask to see a medical certificate, such as your MATB1 form. You’ll get this at an antenatal appointment after your 20-week scan.
You can read more about antenatal appointments here but it is important to be aware that by law, your employer has to allow you paid time off for antenatal appointments.
When you are pregnant you are also entitled to ‘reasonable’ paid time off work to go to any relaxation, parenting or medical appointments. However, these do need to be recommended by your midwife or GP and you may be asked for a letter from a healthcare professional to qualify any appointments.
Check your contract for extra maternity rights
Check your contract or employee handbook to see if you have any extra rights beyond the legal minimum. For example, some employers give you extra healthcare while you’re pregnant.
Your employer can’t take away any of your maternity rights – no matter what your contract says. If your contract tries to take away any of the maternity rights on this page, check what steps you can take or contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help.
Maternity leave and going back to work
Your profession and pregnancy will influence how long you to continue to work for. All pregnant women are entitled to 52 weeks maternity leave that can start any time from 11 weeks before the start of the week your baby is due. Mums often try to work as long as possible and save up their maternity entitlement to they can spend it with baby instead.
You can’t predict how you might be feeling when the back to work deadline looms; for some women becoming a mum is a chance to re-evaluate career paths and aspirations but ultimately your baby and your bank balance will impact your decision, but it is still important to do what’s right for you.
If you are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay then this will be paid into your usual pay packet which will most likely be weekly or monthly, and if you don’t qualify, for example if you are self-employed, then you might also be able to claim a Maternity Allowance, both of which are paid for up to 39 weeks.
Of course, some professions are more hazardous during pregnancy and if you are concerned that your work will impact negatively on your pregnancy and baby-to-be, speak with your employer, who is legally obliged to find you a safe alternative. If you work with any of the following, speak with your healthcare providers and employer to ensure that you and your baby are safe. Your employer might also carry out a risk assessment to make sure that your current job roles are suitable in your new mum-to-be role.
- Animals –can expose you to E. coli, toxoplasmosis and other diseases
- Chemicals– some are unsafe to be around if you are pregnant so double check the safety information
- Food– raw meat could expose you to salmonella, E. coli and listeria
- Radiation– X-rays and other forms of radiation can be detrimental to your baby’s health. If your work involves repeat exposure to radiation, your employer should find you a safe alternative role.
- Viral hazards– childcare and medical professions could expose you and your bump to childhood diseases and viruses which may be potentially harmful to baby so extra care is needed to minimise the risks.
In any profession, basic health and safety regulations should ensure that the floor is free from trip hazards and that they are not slippery to walk on. You should also never feel pressured into lifting or moving heavy items.
The first trimester can be tiring –especially when you may not want to tell colleagues your new-person news just yet. You can help yourself by staying hydrated and eating little and often. Choose your snacks shrewdly as a chocolate high leads to a sugar low that won’t help in the long run. Opt for fruit or vegetable crudités and dips.
Being pregnant can make some women feel forgetful, also known as ‘baby brain’. Keeping lists and notes and staying organised can help you to remain professional while pregnant.
For lots more support and advice, visit @the_mother_box on Instagram.