At least three times a week someone asks ‘so, when are you going back to work?’ and I have to stop myself from reaching out and smacking them upside the head. I can’t blame them really, as I have done two ‘Keeping in touch’ days in the last few weeks. KIT days are days that I am paid for at my normal daily rate of pay and are meant to enable me to keep in touch (duh!) with the business/my colleagues etc. I am allowed to use 10 throughout my maternity leave.
A bit of background: I work as a Hotel Manager and have worked for the same company for 11 years. There is no part time option, it’s all or nothing. I do however get to chose more or less what hours I work and can work weekends instead of week days (the joys of a 24/7/365 business). I prefer to start work around 7 or 8am and I now live a 30 minute train journey from work, so need to factor in travel costs/times in my plans. The other issue is that I am effectively on call 24/7. If there is a disaster I have to be there, this happens every so often (fire alarms, suicides, trashed rooms etc) and it’s been quite nice since having Athena to know that the only thing waking me up in the middle of the night is her, not a desperate night porter on the end of the phone. Also fairly often I have to do trips away to train people or to attend courses myself, which often include a night or two away. On top of all that my day-to-day job is ridiculously stressful, the general public are buggers to work with you know, as is managing health and safety for a huge hotel and restaurant… if someone does something stupid then I am liable for the fine/prison sentence because I ‘haven’t trained them’ correctly (or the manager who should have trained them…)
My husband also works in a hotel (now for a different company, although we used to work together) and does 5 nights a week, getting home anything from midnight –6am, with no specific shift pattern. He works in events so it all depends on what type of events are running and their requirements as to when he will finish. So although he is normally at home during the day till around 1.30 it wouldn’t be fair to make him get up and look after the baby if I toddled off to work at 7am as he would get no sleep. On the days he is off he would obviously love to have her, but if we had entered into an agreement with a child-minder or nursery we would be paying for it so it would be daft not to send her on those days. Sam only gets his rotas on a Wednesday for the week commencing the following Monday, so leaves us no time to plan, but that’s the nature of hospitality!
Oh dear, this is sounding like a sob story and I don’t mean for it to be like that! I’m just writing this to help make it all clear to me really! Officially my return to work date is 1/6/2014 as I worked up until the week before my EDD, however I have 5 weeks of unused annual leave from this year that I can add on to the end of that, so my options are:
- go back after 10 months, i.e. tack my 5 weeks annual leave (at full pay) on to the end of my Ordinary Maternity Leave, effectively leaving me with no unpaid time off (although Statutory Maternity Pay isn’t brilliant it is something!)
- go back in the 2nd week of July, so three months of my leave will be Additional Maternity Leave, which is unpaid but with my 5 weeks annual holiday added on to the end.
- Not go back at all (Luckily, I am under no obligation to, I wouldn’t forfeit any of my maternity pay, and would get paid 5 weeks holiday pay even if I handed in my notice) and then either seek part time work/work from home or study.
I know nobody has a magical answer for me, and I am aware that only I can truly decide what is best, but I would appreciate any words of wisdom anyone has, or if you’ve been in a similar situation? I’m also working on a post about alternatives careers, so I’ll get that up soon.