How to Quit a Job While on Maternity Leave
Maternity leave is the time that a new mother takes off from work in order to have or adopt a baby. Federal law requires that companies allow women to take unpaid leave for this purpose, and some companies have increased benefits that allow women to be paid for the time they are out of work. If you decide not to return to work while you are on maternity leave, you will need to follow the necessary procedures with your employer. The right time to give your notice will depend on many individual factors.
Deciding What's Best for You
Assess your current situation.Think about how much you enjoy your current job, how reliant you are on your salary and benefits, and whether or not you would be able to maintain your work schedule as a new parent. Quitting your job can be a difficult decision, and you will need to carefully weigh all the pros and cons in order to choose the right option for you.
- Compare the cost of child care to your income to help you decide whether working full-time is the best option for you.
- Make sure to have a plan for health insurance before you give your notice. Depending on your situation, you may choose to get coverage through your spouse's plan, to enroll in COBRA, or to purchase an individual insurance plan through the .
Think about your other options.Depending on the nature of the company you work for and your reasons for wanting to quit your job during maternity leave, you may have other options available to you.
- If, for example, you cannot afford to send your child to daycare while you are at work, you may consider asking your company about the possibility of working from home, either as a regular employee or as a freelancer.
- You may likewise be able to negotiate for part-time hours if you want to spend more time with your child, but don't want to cut ties with your company.
- If you love the company you work for and would like to return when your child is older, it is especially important to try to keep your foot in the door, or at least to leave on exceptionally good terms.
Be sure.It is very common for new mothers to change their minds about their employment status during maternity leave. If you are not 100% sure that you want to leave your job, consider going back to work for several weeks or months to see how it works for you. If you come to the conclusion after returning to work that it doesn't work you, you can give your notice at that time.
- If you are feeling unsure about whether or not you will want to return to work after your maternity leave, but you want to make sure that you don't leave your job on bad terms, you may wish to have a candid discussion with your boss before your maternity leave begins, and let him know that there is a possibility that you may choose not to return. Think about your company culture and how likely it is that you will be laid off after this conversation before you decide to go through with it.
Determining When to Give Notice
Read your company's employee manual.Your company may have specific procedures to follow in the event that you do not come back from your maternity leave.
- Some companies may require you to pay them back for any benefits you used while on maternity leave, including short-term disability benefits and health insurance, if you resign while on maternity leave. Make sure you understand if and for how long you will need to return to work in order to retain these benefits.
Think about the financial implications.This will vary depending on what kind of maternity leave benefits your company provides, whether you have health insurance through your employer, and what other sources of income your family has.
- You should also consider the fact that an employer can lay you off immediately after you have given your notice. If you cannot afford to lose your salary and/or benefits before your child arrives, and you think there is a possibility that your employer will lay you off, it may be best for you to wait until you are on maternity leave to give your notice.
Consider the ethics.If you know that you will not be returning to work after maternity leave, waiting until the end of your maternity leave to give your notice may in some cases give you access to more benefits from your employer, but it may also leave your company short-handed. The right decision for you will depend on your personal situation and the kind of company you work for.
- If your company offers additional maternity benefits beyond those provided by FMLA and short-term disability, consider that quitting during maternity leave may harm the company financially. Some people even believe that taking advantage of generous maternity benefits when you know ahead of time that you have no intention of returning to work may result in the company's deciding not to offer these benefits to other new parents in the future.
- Be prepared for the possibility that your boss and/or coworkers might think you have been taking advantage of benefits, even if you genuinely believed that you would be returning to work when you left on maternity leave.
Provide appropriate notice.If you decide to give your notice while on maternity leave, you should still give as much notice as you would give under normal circumstances. For example, if the expected amount of notice is two weeks at your place of employment, try to give notice of your decision to quit at least two weeks before you are due to return.
Set a personal deadline.If you're struggling with the decision, give yourself some time to think about it, but tell yourself that you have to come to a decision by a specific date. This will help you focus on making the decision and prevent you from waiting until the very last moment to give your notice.
Handling the Logistics
Don't burn bridges.It's always a good idea to leave your job on the best possible terms because you never know what will happen in the future. You may one day decide to return to the company, or you may need a reference letter from your boss if you decide to looking for other employment opportunities.
- Offer to help the company deal with the transition by doing some work from home or coming in for a few hours to help train your replacement.
- Write an outline of your job responsibilities, and be sure to include important information, such as passwords and contact information, that your replacement will need to know.
- Be polite and refrain from expressing any negative opinions about the company, your boss, or your coworkers.
Take care of health insurance, retirement, and other benefits.If you received healthcare benefits at work, you will have the option to enroll in COBRA. You will also need to rollover or cash out any retirement savings.
- Fill out all necessary paperwork and direct questions to your human resources or personnel department.
- Pay attention to deadlines and costs associated with COBRA enrollment and retirement changes.
Put your notice in writing.Write a formal letter of resignation and deliver it to your supervisor and the human resources department.
- You may wish to consider giving your notice to your boss in person or over the phone before you write your formal resignation letter, especially if the two of you have a good relationship. This is much more personal and may help ease hard feelings.
Return any company property that you have.You may have taken files or other hard copy or electronic materials with you after your maternity leave began. Be sure to get those things back to your supervisor.
- Return any keys or identification badges as well.
Pick up any personal belongings from your office.If you left anything behind, such as pictures, coffee cups, sweaters, or other items, stop at your office to get them.
- If you are unable to return to the office, arrange to have your belongings delivered to you. Some companies have security policies in place that will not allow former employees to return to the office.
Coping With Your Decision
Create a schedule.If you're accustomed to getting up and going to the office every day, staying home with your child could be a big adjustment. Ease the transition by coming up with a regular (weekly or daily) routine of things you need to do, so you feel like your days still have structure.
- Avoid watching too much television. Look for productive things you can do around the house or fun things to do with your child instead.
Stay social.It's totally normal to feel isolated as a new stay-at-home mom, but don't let those feelings consume you!
- Keep in touch with old friends, and try to meet other stay-at-home moms.
- Take part in a club or group activity. If you need childcare, try joining a gym that offers it on-site.
Keep connected to your career.If you plan on going back to work eventually, be sure to keep the doors open for an easier back-to-work transition.
- Stay in touch with former colleagues and anyone else who may be able to help you find a job in your field in the future.
- Keep up-to-date with what's happening in your field by reading industry news, watching webinars, or taking classes.
- If you're concerned about how an extended absence from the workforce will look on your resume, look for part-time or freelance opportunities that won't require much of a commitment. Even volunteering a few hours a week or writing an industry-related blog can help keep you connected to your career.
Go back to work if you want to.Lots of moms decide that staying home is not for them and decide to go back to work after a few months or a few years. Do whatever you feel is best for you and your child.
QuestionI am a part time worker with no benefits. I am on maternity leave. Could I give my two week's notice?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you may give your notice while on maternity leave.Thanks!
How long does it take for maternity payouts to begin?
I just started maternity leave and have decided to stay home with my child. Medicaid has been covering my insurance premiums. Will I have to pay them back still?
- Remember that deciding whether to go back to work or stay home with your child is a personal decision, and one that you should make carefully. If you are unsure whether you want to quit, ask for more time. Some employers might be willing to give you some flexibility if it means keeping you as an employee.
- Be prepared to manage hard feelings. Your employer may be disappointed if you do not return, especially if you had planned to come back before you began your leave.
- Being a stay-at-home mom can be stressful and exhausting, but if you start to feel depressed or anxious, make sure you get treatment.
Video: How to Leave a Job on Good Terms
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