Returning to Work... Part-time
February 8, 2005 6:19 PM   Subscribe

I'm currently on maternity leave from a job that I love. I had planned on returning to work once my leave was up, but I've now made the decision to stay home with my baby. However, I would still like to work for my current employer on a freelance basis. What's the best way to break the news to them that I'm not coming back while hopefully leaving the door open for future freelance/contract work? I don't want to burn any bridges.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total)
Bring the baby by the office if possible and spend some time with your co-workers (maybe at lunch time). When they ask about when you'e coming back, mention how hard it will be to leave your little one (and maybe even that you wonder whether you can do so on a full-time basis), and gage what the reaction is to that. Assuming your boss is there, you can maybe use that as a springboard for a further discussion.
posted by Doohickie at 6:48 PM on February 8, 2005

I would think that if your employers are reasonable, they will understand the truth. If you tell them how much you like your job and how much you would like to continue to work with them in the future, but that your newborn baby is the number one priority in your life, you've got a very respectable position. I don't think anyone in their right mind would ask you to change that outlook or frown upon it.
posted by spaghetti at 7:00 PM on February 8, 2005

Bring the baby by the office

No, no, really, that's ok. Please. Please?

Seriously, though, I don't think you get much further away from "tell them what you want to do". If they want you there, and if that arrangement fits in the corporate culture/management style, then they'll want to keep your services, and if it doesn't they won't, but I can't see any sort of displays prior to telling them changing your irreplacability or the corporate side much.
posted by mendel at 7:42 PM on February 8, 2005

I would say something along the lines of:

"After a great deal of thought, you can't believe how hard it was for me to come to this decision, I've decided that I am going to stay home and raise my baby for an indefinite period."

Then I would go into how much you love the job, and then talk about how if freelance work is available - anytime - you would weclome it.

Make it as positive a decision as possible. Other than the work, this is a great thing, and if they need you to do something and can have you do it from home, that would be even better. The best of both worlds.
posted by xammerboy at 8:15 PM on February 8, 2005

Dear Boss:

As you know, I'm currently on maternity leave from a job that I love. I had planned on returning to work once my leave was up, but I've now made the decision to stay home with my baby. However, I would still like to work for [the company] on a freelance basis.


The above reads like a good opening for a letter. You may want to stretch the contractions though. [ Ouch, bad pun ;-P ]
posted by mischief at 8:30 PM on February 8, 2005

Write them a letter explaining everything and specifically telling them you want to work from home. Hand deliver it to your HR office, your direct supervisor, and their supervisor.
posted by pwb503 at 10:18 PM on February 8, 2005

Start freelancing for them before your leave is up, then when that time comes tell them that if it's possible you'd like to continue the arrangement.
posted by nicwolff at 12:29 AM on February 9, 2005

it depends how well you know the people who are i control of hiring you, what the structure of your work is, etc.

in a similar position (my partner found a job elsewhere), i said to my employers, who i knew well, "look, my contract says i have to give notice in a month. in fact, i might well be leaving in two months (iirc). i'm telling you that now because i want to hurt the company as little as possible, so you have more time to deal with this (they were losing 1/3 of their staff) and because i'd like you to think about keeping me on as a telecommute."

it worked - i spent 2-3 happy years telecommuting.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:18 AM on February 9, 2005

Nicwolff's advice is good; doohickie's I would ignore - that would come off as sort of coy and almost passive/aggressive, like you wanted to manipulate them into offering you something. Be honest and straightforward when the time comes, and leading up to that see if you can get a foot in the freelance door while you're still on leave.
posted by mdn at 6:30 AM on February 9, 2005

Ask your boss to make time to talk (lunch is best, if you have that kind of relationship with her/him) and then be frank about how you'd like to restructure your position. You aren't letting anyone down here-- life changes things all the time. And I think what nicwolff said is perfect: if you can start doing some freelance work right away it will demonstrate that you can do this successfully.
posted by idest at 6:33 AM on February 9, 2005

Whatever you decide to do, do it soon - well before you are scheduled to return - for the sake of pregnant women who will follow you in your company. My predecessor in this job waited until her 11th week of leave - the week before she was to return - to spring a work-from-home proposal on my boss. He turned her down and she resigned. During my pregnancy a year or so later, he never believed me when I told him (repeatedly) that I would be coming back after maternity leave and it was an incredibly stressful experience for both of us.
posted by SashaPT at 7:00 AM on February 9, 2005

Oh, you might also want to scope out the financial implications of not returning. I think that in some states, you have to reimburse your company for any expenses they incurred on your behalf when you were on leave (health insurance premiums, etc.).
posted by SashaPT at 7:02 AM on February 9, 2005

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