Extending Maternity Leave
Tactics to Stretch Out That Precious Maternity Leave with your New Baby
By: Kelby Carr on: Thu 06 of Sep, 2007 [02:56 UTC] (6113 reads)
Maternity leave can seem oh-so short, but there are ways to extend your maternity leave. Find out some tactics for making your maternity leave last longer so you get more bonding time with your newborn baby, as well as ways to cope with maternity leave issues like loss of income or threats to your job.
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There are so many challenges to getting the maternity leave you want. Sometimes it's a matter of money, and needing the income from your job. Sometimes it's just a matter of a workplace that frowns on long maternity leaves, or might even hand your job to a co-worker.
If you get bed rest or have a NICU baby, or both, you could very well consume all your allowed maternity leave before you even bring your baby home. This can be extremely stressful, so creative methods of extending maternity leave may be necessary.
Ask for More Maternity Leave Before the Birth
One key method is to ask for more maternity leave right from the start. You are required under the Family Medical Leave Act (if you are in the U.S., and work for an employer who falls under it) to request your maternity leave in writing ahead of time, if possible.
Consider putting in a request for more time than you think you will need, but not so much it raises an eyebrow. Also be sure you get a written approval of the notification as soon as possible. No employer will complain if you say you want to return earlier, but you could face issues if you request it, say, a week before your scheduled return.
Stash Your Sick and Vacation Time
If you know you are trying to conceive or you are pregnant, try to avoid using any sick or vacation time (unless you will lose it before the baby arrives). You can usually use this time to get much-needed pay during your leave. It could mean the difference between returning after six weeks or eight to twelve weeks.
Also see if you can use the time in smaller than normal increments. For example, ask if you can use two vacation or sick days per week instead of using them all at once. That way, you will have some income for a longer period.
Pursue Short-Term? Disability for Maternity Leave
Check with your workplace to see first of all if you have short-term disability benefits. Then check to see if maternity leave qualifies for this. In many instances, it does. Depending on your policy, you could qualify for a decent amount of pay during your leave, such as 60 percent of your typical pay for 12 weeks.
Be sure you ask what coverage and pay you will get, and how long it will last. Also find out what you need to file, and when, to get your disability pay. Not all employers volunteer this information, and there is typically a delay. You often have to use up all your sick and vacation time before it kicks in.
Work from Home from Early in Maternity Leave
Another nice way to extend your maternity leave is to work from home even from very early after baby's arrival. This is especially useful if you have a NICU baby, and you're looking to get more maternity leave after your baby comes home. Working from home can even be a nice distraction from the stress of having a baby in the NICU.
You may need a letter from your doctor authorizing you to work from home. I would also suggest starting very slow, and not committing to a particular level until you try it first. If your work involves phone calling, try to have someone come and help during those times.
But just think: after four weeks of maternity leave, working just one day a week from home (maybe even some time in the hours after baby goes to sleep) earns you almost another week from home if your employer will allow it.
Return to Work Part-Time?
Easing back into work is another way to get a little more maternity leave juice. Even workaholic moms can find it tough to switch from 24-hours-a-day with baby to the whole scene of daycare dropoffs and eight-hour work days.
Ask your employer about coming back to work two days a week initially, and work your way up to a full-time schedule. If you've done some working from home already, your employer will see how effective you can be in that role.
You could even ask to work at the office a couple days a week, and at home a couple days. If that's working out, don't be afraid to ask to keep that setup permanently!