Does your employer support you and your family in the midst of pregnancy and parenthood? Here at Mama Bamboo we are proud to offer our team the ability to work flexibly from home, so they can strike a good balance between being a parent and working. We also actively support parents returning to work following extended parental leave. How well does your employer support pregnancy and parenthood?
Read on as Emmy Samtani founder of Kiindrid explores this important topic.
Navigating pregnancy and parenthood is tricky at the best of times but when it’s time to think about throwing work into that mix, there’s a lot you need to consider. It’s important to know your options as you weigh up which working scenario best suits you and your growing family. And one of the major considerations will be how your employer stacks up when it comes to supporting you and your family through pregnancy and those early years with kids.
If you’re a new parent, you want to make sure that your employer is prepared to support you during this time. Here are some tips on how to evaluate how well your current (or a future employer) supports pregnancy and parenthood so that you know whether it’s the right place for you as a working parent.
How do you manage work when pregnant?
If you're pregnant and working, we see you. It's important to talk with your boss and get an understanding of what type of accommodations they can offer you while pregnant. Pregnancy isn’t an illness so if you and your pregnancy are progressing well—and depending on the nature of your role, in theory, you should be able to continue business as usual. However, that doesn’t mean pregnancy is easy, so having a conversation about how to care for yourself whilst performing your role is key. They may be able to provide you with more frequent breaks, work from home days or look at switching up your role/duties where possible.
You should also speak with HR or a senior manager to determine what they can do to help with changes that are needed as a result of pregnancy as well as what your role looks like when you return after having your baby. What options are available such as changing hours, days or assignments?
One of the most important things to consider when starting a family is whether or not your employer offers parental leave. This can often be a make-or-break factor in deciding whether or not to start a family while employed.
On the other hand, if you’re only offered three weeks off without pay, you may feel pressure to return sooner rather than later so as not to lose ground on your career. If your company offers parental leave, find out what it entails: How do they pay the leave? Are there any considerations around how you can take the leave? Is there a limit to how many hours per day/week you're allowed to work or around the capacity in which you return?
Your employee benefits may cover some maternity leave. Still, in many cases the benefit is limited, and where you live will determine what government allowances you might receive to subsidise this loss in income. You might also be able to use up any saved annual or sick leave you have accrued - it’s a good idea to look at all your balances and weigh up how this will play into the time you take off.
Companies can vary greatly in their policies so it’s important to understand how yours works, and if you are not sure, ask for a meeting with your manager or someone in HR to take you through it.
Generally, new fathers/partners often take two weeks off after the birth of their child, but not all employers are generous with paternity leave. Some employers offer no paid time off, which can be a substantial financial burden on new parents. The best way to find out how your employer supports pregnancy and parenthood is to speak with the HR department, however, it is also a good idea to ask other parents in the company and look online for employee reviews.
A good place to start is Glassdoor's Employee Reviews Page where employees anonymously review their company's parental benefits. You can also check whether the company has been certified as a Family Friendly Workplace.
A family-friendly workplace is not only good for morale but can also attract top talent. Because when employees feel supported and appreciated it not only boosts morale but also productivity - being mutually beneficial to both employee and employer. Pregnancy and parenthood come with a unique set of challenges, so it's important to make sure your employer is supportive and flexible with your needs during this time, whether that’s flexible hours or working from home. Having open communication about how you can both achieve the best outcomes is important.
Support when it matters most
As important as day-to-day flexibility is, you also want to know that your employer is there to support your wider parenting journey - whatever that may look like. Knowing how your employer will help you through things such as fertility, miscarriage, or postpartum depression (PPD) is an important consideration.
Fortunately, many employers are now providing paid leave and further support specifically for parents during these times. If your company doesn't provide such benefits, you may be able to get an individual disability insurance policy through your state’s mental health association that will cover up to six weeks of leave time after childbirth.
You've been out on maternity leave for a few months and you're finally ready to return to work. But you're also a bit anxious about how things will go. After all, your priorities have shifted somewhat, and that’s ok. For example, finding the right child care becomes extremely important to you, because it's what will allow you to get back into the swing of things at work.
Worry not! Employers are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations for new mothers so that they can continue their careers after childbirth. A workplace should be accommodating when considering what hours employees come in, where they sit, or whether a new mother needs more time off. And if an employee wants to breastfeed during her breaks, she should be able to do so without being embarrassed or made to feel uncomfortable. There are many other ways employers can make sure working mums feel welcome and respected at work.
How much should a pregnant woman work?
During your pregnancy, you should work as much as your body will allow you to. If you are comfortable working in the same way you were prior to falling pregnant (or as the pregnancy progresses), then you should continue to do so. However, if she starts to feel uncomfortable or unwell at any point, then you should take a break. Some women want to work right up until they give birth while others would prefer to finish up a few days or weeks before their baby is due. It all depends on how you are feeling and what your midwife or doctor advises.
When you are pregnant or have a new baby and are considering your options around returning to work, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Employers are required to be supportive of their employees' decisions and offer support and flexibility in order for them to perform their work safely. Having open and honest communication with your manager - as well as knowing your rights - will help you make the transition from pregnancy to working parent go smoothly.
Author - Emmy Samtani
Emmy is the founder of Kiindred and mother to 3 little ones.
Over the last 4 years, she has worked with some of the most credible experts in the parenting space and is a keen contributor to all things parenthood.