Managing your work and leave

The lowdown on dealing with pregnancy at work, keeping in touch during leave, and returning to work


Workload worries?

During your first and final trimesters, tiredness and absentmindedness may sometimes get in the way of your work. While this is understandable, confiding in a colleague who has been through the same thing and can offer support is a good idea – she may have tips on how she dealt with it.


Also, while you might feel you have to soldier on, you should make your employer aware of how you feel: they may be able to spread your workload. It’s important that your boss understands that you’re no less of a worker, but if you’re struggling with tiredness and hormones your stress levels are sure to rise.

Suggesting alternative working arrangements may be the answer. Many mums-to-be find travelling to and from work the most tiring part of the day, so suggest that you could work from home some days. And if you do find yourself getting stressed, try deep-breathing exercises, yoga, stretching or go for a short walk.

Keeping in touch

Once you’re on leave your employer is entitled to make reasonable contact with you, and it’s a good idea from your point of view, too. For example, you may need to discuss arrangements for your return to work, or to check in to keep up to date on changes in the workplace.

Back to work

After ordinary maternity leave you have a right to return to your job with the same terms and conditions. This also applies if you’ve had additional leave, unless your employer can show that it’s not practical – if your job no longer exists, for example. In this case, you must be offered a suitable alternative.

You don’t have to give notice of when you’re coming back if you’ve taken your full leave, but it’s a good idea. If you decide not to return, you must give the notice that applies for your company. And if you’re ill at the end of your leave, also tell your employer in the normal way.

Time off during pregnancy

Our guide to what time you can take off while pregnant

Throughout your pregnancy you’re entitled to take paid time off to attend antenatal classes and health checkups, regardless of whether you are full or part-time. After the first appointment, you’ll need to supply your employer with a certificate signed by a registered medical practitioner, midwife or health visitor, confirming that you are pregnant, along with your appointment card or a document showing that an appointment has been made. You’re entitled to paid time off for all reasonable antenatal care, including relaxation classes and parent-craft classes, and the time needed to travel to these appointments.

Keeping people happy

While it is your right to time off for appointments, it’s a good idea to arrange these as close to the beginning or end of the day as possible so as not to cause too much disruption to your working day. This is likely to be more of an option for antenatal classes, but if you find you do have to arrange classes in work time you may need a letter from your GP, midwife or health visitor, stating that these classes are part of your antenatal care.

Hospital appointments are generally less flexible and you probably won’t have any option other than to take time off work, but your employer will expect you to take no more time off than is necessary and try to cause as little disruption as possible.


So, while you’re probably dying to update your workmates on the progress of your pregnancy, and your colleagues are anxious to see the pictures of your latest scan, you may want to wait until lunchtime to share your news.

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