Mat Leave Job Serach
February 24, 2012 7:54 PM   Subscribe

Is maternity leave the wrong time to start looking for a new job?

I've been thinking of leaving my job for a while now, but I got knocked up and am now pregnant with my first child. So I figured it would be best to stay put, for now. Since I've announced my pregnancy my boss has been a total dick. He's taken away my good assignments and given me crap ones and has no qualms about working me harder now than he did before. Now I REALLY want to quit.

I've been at my company many years and have fortunately accrued around 130 sick and vacation days. I've worked it out with HR so I can be on leave for six months after the baby comes. I was hoping to use that time to look for another job.

Has anyone done this? My biggest fear is that after six months of not working or sleeping my brain will turn to rice cereal. I've heard from a lot of moms that going back to a job they knew well was incredibly hard after maternity leave and that attempting to start somewhere new would probably be worse. I'm also afraid that having a new baby will make me a less than stellar employee for a few months which I can probably get away with at my current job but I'm not sure that would fly at a job where they don't already know me to be a good employee. On the other hand, I really hate my job right now. Every day that I have to go there, I'm filled with dread. The idea of going back after the baby makes me ill. But I obviously will, if I have to.

Any and all input appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Six months is a long time baby wise. Depending on your parenting style you can pretty much have your sleep schedule and sanity back in 4-5 months and use the last bit to return to "new normal".

Of course this all depends on baby too.

Going back, even to a job you love, is really hard for every Mom. My wife was so distraught on her first day back at work we pulled into the wrong driveway dropping our little one off for the first time at daycare. The old man there was very kind to us, but directed me to the right house. My wife was just a wreck.

Even 8 months out she really hates dropping her off at daycare on a Monday. She gets all weepy still after spending the whole weekend with our critter.
posted by sanka at 8:07 PM on February 24, 2012

While it would be sort of a shitty thing to do, if you are serious about changing jobs, consider maxing out your maternal leave time/benefits with the first company before starting the next. But whatever you do, don't tell the next company that that is what you are doing/did.

posted by timsteil at 8:18 PM on February 24, 2012

I disagree with timstell; I don't think it's wrong to look for another job. You accrued the sick time and vacation time, and you (presumably) worked their long enough to be entitled to some amount of maternity leave as well. Additionally, it sounds like the catalyst for leaving is that your boss is terrible and is treating you badly because of your pregnancy. If he's going to treat you badly as a pregnant woman, it's reasonable to think that he'll treat you badly as a new mother as well. I would definitely try to get out of that situation.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:27 PM on February 24, 2012 [9 favorites]

One thing to consider: my employer has a clause that if you don't return to work after maternity leave, you owe them whatever they paid for your health insurance while you were on leave. Which can be a pretty large sum, especially for six months' worth of benefits. Check your benefits information before you decide what you're going to do.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:21 PM on February 24, 2012 [7 favorites]

Agree with check the benefits information. No problem looking as the employer obviously showed how important you are to them when they started turning ugly on you. They don't deserve you if they are too dumb to realize women get pregnant and they need time off to take care of that business vs. slaving for their bosses.

Frankly most employers are ugly about how they treat expecting mothers before and after. Anecdotal, but a family member had a coworker leave for maternity and be fired the 2nd day after she came back. Reason? "We realized we did fine without her, so we don't need her back after all" \('~')/
posted by Bodrik at 9:50 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

While it would be sort of a shitty thing to do...

Na, it's not shitty. Shitty is when your boss treats you like dirt because you're preggers. Remember you can be fired for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all. They don't owe you nuthing, and you owe them exactly that. If businesses want loyalty, they need to give loyality and respect. You've earned your sick leave and vacation time. It's your right to take your maternity leave. Enjoy it.

If all is cool with your benefits, then go look for the new job. If there's a problem with having to pay the old firm back, I'd go back to the old job, mark time until you no longer have that penalty, and be looking every minute for something else.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:43 PM on February 24, 2012 [5 favorites]

I have no idea if anything similar applies where you are, but in the UK if you have 'enhanced' maternity pay from your employer (above Statutory Maternity Pay, SMP), or have longer leave than SMP which is paid for by your employer, then if you don't come back after your maternity leave then they can claim back from you all the non-SMP pay.
posted by Coobeastie at 11:00 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not sure what the laws are where you are but in Canada I'm pretty sure you could complain about that boss and get a payout if you can show a change since pregnancy was disclosed.

Agree on all comments re benefits -- if you give you anything (like health coverage) they may require you to come back for a stint.

Also, going back will be hard .. No matter what job choice you make, I would make sure you have support around to help stay calm and get through it (other moms, family you can call).

Also, it will help at work if you are very confident about where your child is in daycare while you are at work.

One thing though, going back to work, work seems like a break compared to parenting, so you may find you are focused and productive just because the joy of being able to focus and be productive is nice.
posted by chapps at 12:48 AM on February 25, 2012

But if possible, look for other work. A better employer won't be a jerk about maternity leave/parenting, so it is worth looking.

I've hired several people with kids, they were all upfront about what they could/could not do and they've been great. Been there myself. Many employers have.

Good luck!!!
posted by chapps at 12:51 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

You never need an excuse to look for a better job. Your boss seems to have given you a reason. You hereby have my permission to look. If worse comes to worse, you have your current job. For now. Until you find a better one. You deserve it.
posted by phoebus at 1:29 PM on February 25, 2012

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