My boss is making me feel guilty for taking maternity leave

by pregnancy journalist

Question: I’m on maternity leave with a baby who is several months old. When applying for leave, I indicated I would be taking no less than 12 months off, however my boss is already asking me when I will be ready to return. He is making a point to mention how much work they have on and, either wittingly or unwittingly, making me feel guilty for not being there.

I don’t want to go back early but how do I tell my boss this and also stop the continual contact with me while I’m trying to enjoy my time with my baby?

Illustration by John ShakespeareCredit:

Answer: The fact that you’re being made to feel guilty about not being at work because you’re busy being a mum to your very young baby is really concerning. It’s obvious that your boss regards you highly, but you might be the greatest exponent of your trade in the world and it would still make your employers’ desire to have you back irrelevant if you have no interest in returning early.

What can you do from here? I asked Marian Baird about your situation. She is a Professor of Gender and Employment Relations at the University of Sydney Business School, as well as the head of the discipline of work and organisational studies.

“Perhaps the employee and the employer could discuss that. But that doesn’t require the employee to return to work before she is ready to,” Professor Baird told me.

You can take as many as 10 keeping in touch days and an additional 10 if your leave extends beyond 12 months. Activities can include updating your skills, participating in a planning session, learning about new processes, being involved in meetings and more. According to Fair Work Australia “An employee gets their normal wage and accumulates leave entitlements for each keeping in touch day or part day.”

Whether this is of interest or not, the most important point here is that you have no obligation to return just because your boss wants you to.

“The employee has the right to leave and to return to her job when her leave finishes, and for her to determine that, as long as she has followed the procedures for nominating her return to work date,” Professor Baird said.

How you approach this with your boss, as I often say in Work Therapy, really depends on how you get on with them.

This content was originally published here.

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