Checklist: maternity leave

Taken from here:

Stressed out about maternity leave? Use this guide to plan and prepare for your time away.

While I sort of mostly know what my company guidelines are, I still have detailed questions that remain unanswered, so I suppose it’s time to schedule a series of meetings to figure out what’s up. I think with a large corporation like mine, you first call the benefits center to set up a disability claim, then meet with the pregnancy benefits counselor, then prepare a proposal for your business/ boss, then forward it to HR… but I’m not certain, so I’ll need to ask around.  I thought this checklist was very helpful.


[Done. Sort of  ] Know your rights
Read up on your company’s policies regarding pregnancy rights and maternity leave, as well as your rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

[Done  ] Ask an expert
If possible, confer with a (trustworthy) colleague who’s been in the same situation. Ask about how her news was received, how was she treated during her pregnancy and any other info that may be helpful to you.

I’ve been asking colleagues about mat leave for more than a year, so I have quite a bit of anecdotal info, but now that it’s looming, I’ll make the rounds again.

[  ] Devise a plan
Determine how much time you want to take off, approximately when you want your leave to start, how accessible you plan to be once you’re out, how much you plan to work during your first weeks back on the job, whether you plan on working a part-time or flexible schedule or telecommute, and who will handle your responsibilities in your absence.

I haven’t written up anything formal, but this is a great suggestion.  I’ll get started on this soon.

[  ] Set up a meeting
Don’t break your big news as you pass your boss in the hall. Instead, make an appointment to sit down together so you’ll have plenty of time and privacy to discuss the situation and your plans. Then, formalize the arrangements you agree upon in writing (and send a copy to your human resources department) so there are no misunderstandings later on.

Oh, how I hate formal discussions about personal things. I think having the aforementioned plan will make this less awkward.  Oh, how I hate awkward.

Note: if you have direct reports, you should probably set up a formal meeting with your team to review your transition plan(s) as well.

[  ] Be ready for surprises
Even if you think you’ve got everything planned perfectly, stuff happens. Baby could come early or late, or you could have unexpected complications. Keep this in mind as you consider when your leave will start and end.

[  ] Train your replacement
Don’t assume anyone can do your job as well as you can. Make sure to go over how to handle your clients, reports, subordinates, and any other responsibilities. Leave detailed step-by-step instructions as well as your contact info.

My plan is to start transitioning responsibilities ahead of time, though this leaves me feeling vulnerable to not being needed. Regardless, this is the safest way to go about it – and it forces me to delegate better.

[  ] Set boundaries
If you don’t want to be completely out of the loop while you’re on leave, request a daily or weekly email that outlines what’s happening at work. But if you want to be contacted only in case of emergency, say so (nicely).

This is a great idea. I think I’ll ask for a complete dark period for 2 – 3 weeks, then weekly updates, then come into the office 3 days a week for a few weeks before I’m completely “back.”

Paula Kashtan

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2 thoughts on “Checklist: maternity leave

  1. I’m actually at lunch with my (male) boss but this is a great list!! Handling that conversation and making those arrangements is something I’ve worried about a lot, and it sounds like you’re well on your way to figuring it out 🙂

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