Posted in: Family Last updated: 29 Jun 2015

Back to Work

Planning how, and when, you go back to work can be tough, and working out how to juggle looking after your baby with your work commitments can feel like a military operation. But there are statutory rights designed to make your working life more flexible to fit around the needs of your new family.

Photograph of mother with baby

Flexible working

The good news is, if you're an employee and you've been with your company for at least 26 weeks (including any period on maternity leave), you’ve the right to ask your employer for a change to your working arrangements once a year. Your employer doesn't have to agree to your request, but they do need to consider it and if they refuse, they need to give you a valid business reason why not.

There are different sorts of flexible working which may work for your family including:

Part-time work

This could give you the best of both worlds; a chance to carry on with your career and still spend time with your baby.

Working from home

Depending on what you do, you might be able to negotiate working part or all of the working week from home.

Change in hours

It might suit you better to start work earlier and leave earlier, most child minders and nurseries start early to accommodate flexible working patterns.

Compressed hours

You could squeeze your hours to give you an extra day off during the week whilst keeping the same pay, e.g. work 8am to 6pm four days a week, instead of 9am to 5pm, five days a week.

Job sharing

Your company may not be able to reduce your job role sufficiently to offer you part-time hours, however, they may be able to employ someone else to job share with you. But don't forget you'll be sharing your wages too.

Term-time working

You may be able to take time off during school holidays when your child starts school. Although this is likely to be unpaid, you could still retain your statutory employment rights.

Before you make your application to your employer, take the time to consider what their concerns may be and be prepared with reasons why you feel the change in your working patterns would be good for the company.

Notifying your employer

Employers must assume that you are taking your full maternity leave. So, if you decide to return to work within a year, you need to give your employer at least 8 weeks notice of the date you want to go back.

Don't forget to take any holiday that you have accrued during your maternity leave according to your employment terms and conditions. This can be taken in addition to your 52 weeks maternity leave and added on to the end.

"You can take a total of 13 weeks per parent, per child until their fifth birthday, in parental leave."

Shared Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave is available to parents of babies due on or after 5 April 2015. Under the new rules, mums must take the first two weeks of maternity leave immediately after birth, but after that working couples have the opportunity to share up to 50 weeks of leave and the remaining 37 weeks of pay.

This is a great opportunity to share the responsibilities during the first year, and worth considering if mum earns more than her partner does.

Parental leave

If you’ve been with your employer continuously for a year or more, you may have the right to take unpaid time off to spend more time with your child, this is called Parental Leave.

Up until their eighteenth birthday, if you are either a parent or the person with legal responsibility for looking after your child's welfare, you can take a total of up to 18 weeks to look after them. This can be an enormous help in emergencies or during school holidays if you can't find appropriate care, but be careful as it will have an impact on your household income as it’s not paid.

Work out your childcare options

Before you tell your employer when you will return to work, think about what your childcare arrangements are going to be. If you're thinking about claiming any of your childcare costs through Tax Credits, your childcare provider will need to be registered. Your local Family Information Service (FIS) will be able to send you a list of registered childcare providers in your area, find your local FIS here».

There's other help available to help with costs our childcare video will give you a good summary of what your options are. When you have an idea of what you want to do you can use our childcare calculator to try a few different scenarios and work out how much you can afford

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Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don't rely on it when making financial decisions. OneFamily do not provide advice so it may be worth speaking to an independent financial advisor about your own circumstances.