Planning maternity leave: 16 essential questions to ask your employer

Pregnancy and preparing for the baby is such an exciting adventure, but it has so many moving parts. I know you spent a lot of time researching the latest baby clothes and playgroups in your area. But how much time did you spend planning your own transition?

You are about to go through what is likely to be one of the most important transitions in your life as you take the plunge from worker To mom To working mom. When considering becoming a working parent, it’s important to recognize the value of planning your transition from work to return to work.

Start the journey here with the 16 Questions You Should Ask Your Employer Before Going on Maternity Leave.

1. What forms do I need to fill out to request my maternity leave?

Your employer will have some administrative details as well as some planning to complete to prepare for your leave. Find out what forms you need to fill out to initiate these processes, when to submit them, and to whom to send them.

2. Am I paid by my company during my maternity leave?

Apart from government programs, some companies offer additional maternity, parental or paternity leave benefits. These benefits can be your full salary for the duration of your maternity leave (yahoo!) Be sure to ask your employer if there are any such benefits. Get written details of amounts, when and when payments started.

3. Am I entitled to benefits during my maternity leave?

Depending on your benefit structure, you may be able to pay a portion of your benefits through payroll deductions. Find out how your employer administers vacation benefits and if you need to make any special arrangements. For example, submitting post-dated checks for your payroll tax potions during periods of leave.

Don’t forget about other benefits like contributions to the pension plan or the matching to a registered retirement savings plan.

4. Does my maternity leave affect my vacation?

Vacation is generally based on years of service (if you are an employee). This means that maternity leave should, in theory, have no impact on your vacation. You should be able to use your vacation immediately before or after your maternity leave. Be sure to clarify this with your employer, as companies may have different policies on the accumulation and use of vacation.

5. Am I still eligible for my full bonus, or is it prorated?

If you receive a bonus outside of your base salary, make sure you understand how your business is handling this through time off. Depending on the eligibility criteria, you might expect to receive some or no bonus during the leave period.

6. How do I add my baby to my health insurance benefits?

Find out about the company’s process for this while you are still pregnant. You will likely have to fill out a form for this to happen. Make sure you get a copy of the form, details on where to send it and how long it will take to get your new benefit cards. You will have a lot of forms to fill out when the baby arrives, so add this one to the pile.

7. How can I contribute to the successful integration of my replacement?

Prepare yourself and your colleagues for continued success throughout this transition by participating in the onboarding of your replacement. Make sure you take the initiative from your manager here and make sure your involvement in the onboarding is appropriate.

8. How can I stay connected to the company during my maternity leave?

You might want to stay signed in at work (if not, that’s okay!). Ask your manager or human resources department for ideas on how to handle this productively. Think about it and be prepared to make some suggestions as well.

9. Can I keep company assets during my maternity leave?

Think about the business assets that you use on a regular basis. Your cell phone and laptop, for example. Ask your employer to keep these items during your leave, if you wish. Be prepared for the answer to be “no” depending on your company policy. But hey, there is no harm in asking.

10. Will the company continue to pay my professional title or license fees during my maternity leave?

If you work in a profession that requires designation or a license and your business is currently paying, check to see if the allowance is still valid during your leave. You don’t want a surprise bill of hundreds of dollars piling up when you earn maternity leave pay.

11. Will the company continue to pay for my studies during maternity leave?

If you are currently enrolled in a training program that you wish to continue during maternity leave, clarify the company policy on this.

12. Can we have a “stay in touch” program in place?

I recommend that you stay connected to your employer. You need to plan how often you’ll connect with the right person in your organization before you go on leave. This is subject to change, depending on how you are feeling. The schedule should be something that you feel you can handle.

13. What is the best way to stay informed about ongoing organizational changes and career advancement opportunities?

If you’re interested in continued career growth and progression, make sure that’s part of the discussion before you go on maternity leave. Bringing that does two things. First, it keeps you in the know. Second, it sends a clear message that you are clearly committed to your career.

14. When will my performance review be administered?

It also serves as a reminder that you are committed to your career. Ask for a performance review before you go on leave to close the loop on the projects you assign.

15. How will I return to work after maternity leave?

Ideally, you don’t wait until the last minute to start planning your return to work. Talk to your employer about the appropriate time to reconnect and schedule the details of your return to the office. Coordinate all logistics well in advance (childcare, parking, morning routine, meals, etc.).

16. Will I return to the same position after my maternity leave?

Learn to understand how your employer typically handles the way you return to your job after maternity leave. Your role could have been adjusted while you were away from the office, so it’s important to understand how they handle change.

Bonus tip!

You could get all of this information in just one meeting with the right person in your business. It could be your human resources person. Treat the meeting as an investigative meeting. Take notes and send an email to confirm the details you discussed, so that you have a record.

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