Back to work after maternity leave

Courage and good planning: How to successfully re-enter the workforce after maternity leave

Women returning to work after maternity leave do not have an easy task ahead of them. Here we explain everything you need to know for your return to work – and help you, not only to be successful in your job, but also to find your work-family balance.

Extend maternity leave – yes, gladly! Not going back to your old job – no thanks. This seems to be the situation for mothers in Switzerland: Über More than 75% of mothers with children under four are employed, most of them with a part-time job. Many extend their maternity leave with unpaid holidays, but then return to work. Of course, this is not only for financial reasons: As the best-educated generation, millennials in particular want to pursue a career and find fulfilment in their jobs, naturally also with children. This makes it all the more important to plan your return to work well – for your own career, your family, your partnership and for yourself.

5 tips for a successful return to work

Returning to work can raise a lot of questions: How do we organise childcare? How can I advance my career even with a part-time job? How involved is my partner? And can I do it all under one hat?! Our 5 tips will inform you:

1. Prepare for your return while you are still pregnant

Ideally, you should clarify future questions for after the birth while you are still pregnant. Above all, you should clarify with your company how long you will be away and under what conditions you will return. What percentage will you work after the birth? Will your role change? What are your career chances with a part-time job? In exactly the same way, you need to plan your family life: How will you and your partner organise yourselves after the birth – not only as a family, but also financially? How will childcare work? What will your life as a family be like?

2. Take care of childcare in good time

Crèche, childminder or grandparents – the question of childcare will certainly occupy you for a while before the birth, especially if you want to go back to work. Depending on the region, crèche places are in high demand, especially for babies under 18 months. So if you decide to put your baby in daycare when you go back to work, it’s worth looking into what’s available early on. Look at different daycare centres during your pregnancy and register your baby for a place a few months before the birth, provisionally ideally directly with two or three daycare centres. This may sound excessive, but it will take a huge burden off you and your partner’s shoulders when your little one arrives and you know that he or she will have a secure daycare place. There will be plenty of unexpected things to deal with! However, childcare doesn’t just have to mean daycare: Can and does your partner want to reduce his or her workload to take care of the children? What is feasible in terms of career and finances? Or will your partner stay at home for the long term? Can grandma and grandpa look after your baby on certain days? The sooner you discuss these things, the more attuned you will be after the birth – and you can focus on your job with a clear conscience while knowing your baby is in good hands. 

3. Redistribute your responsibilities

A newborn baby will turn your world upside down! This makes it all the more important that you also think about your partnership and that you, as a working mum, hand over responsibility to your partner. In Switzerland, the main responsibility for housework and childcare in most households lies with women – even if they work. So find a way to balance family, job and partnership that suits both of you, even if that means redistributing responsibilities. After all, neither your career, nor your family, nor your relationship and last but not  least you yourself, should have to suffer in the long term. 

4. Prefer a shorter break to a long one

While it’s great to spend as much time as possible with your children, it’s also a fact that it’s easier to return to work after a shorter break. Depending on the profession, baby breaks of more than a year are still not very welcome in Switzerland – and could possibly also make your pension situation worse upon retirement. The “gender pension gap” in Switzerland is around 37%: This is how much lower women’s pensions are on average than those of men. So if you don’t want to suffer financial losses and career setbacks, it’s worth taking a shorter maternity leave. If you prefer to take a longer break, then use this time for further education (online and self-study are also possible) or voluntary work. 

5. Take a professional assessment – and be brave!

Have your professional goals changed with motherhood? What do you want to achieve in the long term? What issues do you want to work on? Would you like more flexible working hours? Or other areas of work? And what has changed in your job? Are there any new opportunities that did not exist before maternity leave? How does your supervisor see your development opportunities? Talk to your manager during your maternity leave to address these questions. Yes, such a conversation may not be easy – especially after a few sleepless nights with a newborn. But it’s worth not losing sight of your career or putting it on hold. Be brave! Plan your career exactly and in the way you want to realise it. What do you want to have achieved by when? Is your current job the right one to do this, even with a reduced workload? If not, then plan for a change of job. With the birth of your child and motherhood, you have also changed and developed – use this for your career as well.

Good preparation for family happiness and a career boost

When your baby finally arrives, the world seems to stand still for a moment. All that counts is the happiness of your little family. Every day is full of surprises, every day is a new adventure – for you and your family. You probably don’t even think about returning to work during the first few weeks. That’s why it’s all the more important to prepare for your return to work during your pregnancy. That way you will enjoy your initial time together as a family much more – and you will also have set the course for your professional future as a mum.