Preparing for Maternity Leave – how to ensure a smooth transition
When I left the workplace in April 2008 I only it expected to be gone for a year at the most, my plan was always to return to the job that I loved. Leaving a job that I had worked hard to build up over the course of the past 5 years was no easy task. As a Senior Sales Administrator for a busy premier brand Motor Dealer, I was responsible for the admin function across 3 franchises with a small team. I wanted to make sure that the transition from me leaving to my maternity cover starting would be as smooth as possible. These are the steps I followed to help the process.
Inform your boss
Once you have had your first scan it’s advisable to inform your boss of your pregnancy and expected maternity leave date as soon as possible to enable them to make the necessary arrangements for your replacement/maternity cover.
Finding a suitable replacement
Obviously, this wouldn’t be the case for every placement but I was invited to help find my maternity cover. I vetted the applicant’s CV’s along with my Manager and together we decided who we would see for an interview. Being able to choose who would take my place whilst I was gone gave me a sense of relief knowing that the job would be in safe hands, it also made me want to ensure that I did all I could to help them settle into the role with ease.
In the preceding months before I was due to leave I made a note of all aspects of the job, I would need to train my replacement to do. Over the course of a month, I created illustrated manuals which would walk the new administrator through each step of the working day/month using technical documentation. Using a selection of screenshots, prompts and instructive text, the new administrator would be able to open the manual to each task and work their way through it one step at a time until they had mastered each section. It would also serve to help anyone else who needed to step in to cover at a time of sickness or holidays.
Notifying Business Contacts
Once a date had been put in place for me to leave and the new starter to begin for a period of handover, I made a point of sending an introductory email to all of my contacts outside of the business. All suppliers and contractors were informed of the date that I would be leaving and who to speak to in my absence. This made for a pleasant welcome to the new administrator and gave me the opportunity to say thank you and goodbye to my business acquaintances. I also created an ‘out of office’ response email to notify who they needed to contact in my absence.
Keep In Touch Days
Before you leave, set a plan with your boss, co-workers and your replacement about when you may be contacted and how often. During your maternity leave, you are allowed to work up to 10 keeping in touch days without affecting your maternity payments. This means you can attend the workplace for crucial meetings, to provide cover or for essential training days. These should be discussed and agreed prior to your leave date.
Say Thank You
I was lucky enough to receive a lot of help and support in my final few months of pregnancy from my boss, my colleagues and my replacement. With heightened emotions in pregnancy you can imagine how hard it was to say goodbye to my work family but as well as saying goodbye I made sure I said a big thank you for all their support and wished them luck for the months ahead promising I would be back for them to meet my little Bean once we were out and about.