Author Topic: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?  (Read 1560 times)

tetrahydrasonic

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I am lucky enough to be getting very close to FIRE and pregnant with my second child. After much number-juggling and discussion with my husband (who is a SAHD) we think that we'll be able to manage annually on 4% of what our stash will be by the end of my maternity leave. We also both think we may want to do some form of paid part-time work in future when the kids are older: carpentry (him), consulting (me) or tutoring (both), and so will have some options to fill any gaps if need be.

I don't want to 100% decide until after the baby is born, just in case something awful happens health-wise or the baby has special needs which will require expensive care - or even if I just decide that being home with 2 kids is awful and I do want to return to my job, possibly part-time.

However, I am pretty sure that I will know for sure before the end of my ~5 month maternity leave that I want to quit. However, I want to keep being paid through my full leave including vacation I can add onto the end, and more importantly I want to keep my health insurance for as long as I can. Given that, when do I tell my boss that I'm not coming back, if that is what I decide?

I know it seems obvious to just wait until the day before I'm supposed to go back, but my boss is a friend and I'll be leaving her in the lurch. She'll also likely want to have a chat about the logistics of my return plans (we have the option to return part time or WFH) a few weeks before, and I don't want to straight-up lie at that point. But if I tell her would she be obliged to make me quit on the spot, and lose my insurance immediately?


jezebel

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2017, 11:22:02 AM »
I am lucky enough to be getting very close to FIRE and pregnant with my second child. After much number-juggling and discussion with my husband (who is a SAHD) we think that we'll be able to manage annually on 4% of what our stash will be by the end of my maternity leave. We also both think we may want to do some form of paid part-time work in future when the kids are older: carpentry (him), consulting (me) or tutoring (both), and so will have some options to fill any gaps if need be.

I don't want to 100% decide until after the baby is born, just in case something awful happens health-wise or the baby has special needs which will require expensive care - or even if I just decide that being home with 2 kids is awful and I do want to return to my job, possibly part-time.

However, I am pretty sure that I will know for sure before the end of my ~5 month maternity leave that I want to quit. However, I want to keep being paid through my full leave including vacation I can add onto the end, and more importantly I want to keep my health insurance for as long as I can. Given that, when do I tell my boss that I'm not coming back, if that is what I decide?

I know it seems obvious to just wait until the day before I'm supposed to go back, but my boss is a friend and I'll be leaving her in the lurch. She'll also likely want to have a chat about the logistics of my return plans (we have the option to return part time or WFH) a few weeks before, and I don't want to straight-up lie at that point. But if I tell her would she be obliged to make me quit on the spot, and lose my insurance immediately?

How much notice (the least amount) would you have to give if you were leaving the job?  Give that much notice prior to the end of your leave unless there is a important reasons to wait until the day before you go back.  If you really think she might cancel your insurance immediately, she is not a friend.

Catbert

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2017, 11:38:03 AM »
I would give her as much notice as you can.  Because telling her the day before you're scheduled to come back burns a bridge you may want/need some day.  Plus she's a friend.  I would wait until after the baby is born just in case something happens.  But then I would tell her, at least informally, your plans.  Not sure why you think she would make you quit (fire you??) on the spot.  But I guess you know your boss and the company better than an internet stranger does.

You should get paid out for your vacation whether you quit or run it out. 


bognish

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2017, 11:38:35 AM »
If you are planning on a 5 month maternity leave then you have an excellent reason to cross train others on your job responsibilities and document all of your work processes. Really focus on doing this before your maternity leave and you will be able to go away on excellent terms and not worry about work. I think its pretty normal for people to change plans either way about staying home or going back to work after a few month trial run. I would suggest waiting until 2 weeks before the end of your leave before announcing your plan. If you like your coworkers come in on the last day to intrude the new born and say goodbye. That's what my wife did. Any reasonable employer should understand and not be too surprised.

lbmustache

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2017, 11:52:05 AM »
xxxxx

How much notice (the least amount) would you have to give if you were leaving the job?  Give that much notice prior to the end of your leave unless there is a important reasons to wait until the day before you go back.  If you really think she might cancel your insurance immediately, she is not a friend.

I'll disagree - at the end of the day this "friend" is her boss. Who has to follow company policy, which may be to terminate insurance immediately. Now, the quitting on the spot vs two weeks might be more negotiable unless there seems to be a company policy to let people go immediately after they put in notice.

You should get paid out for your vacation whether you quit or run it out.

I think this might depend on state law, but don't quote me on that :)


I agree with the others that ~2 weeks should be fine. If your maternity leave is 5 months and you think you will know sometime before those 5 months are up, I would think you'd have an idea of your plans when your boss will "likely want to have a chat about the logistics of my return plans ... a few weeks before." If you feel comfortable, that is when I would tell her.

FLBiker

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2017, 02:42:13 PM »
I agree with the others that ~2 weeks should be fine. If your maternity leave is 5 months and you think you will know sometime before those 5 months are up, I would think you'd have an idea of your plans when your boss will "likely want to have a chat about the logistics of my return plans ... a few weeks before." If you feel comfortable, that is when I would tell her.

+1  And I also agree that prepping them for your 5 month absence is a very good way to prep them for your permanent absence.

researcher1

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2017, 02:54:00 PM »
She'll also likely want to have a chat about the logistics of my return plans (we have the option to return part time or WFH)

This is a critical piece of information.

Towards the end of your maternity leave, tell your company that you want to return part-time.
After 1-2 weeks of part-time work, tell them you've decided you want to be home with your kids, and give 2 weeks notice.

This plan has several benefits...
- Keeps your options open during pregnancy and maternity leave (in case you need to return to work)
- Maintains your paid leave, accrued vacation, health insurance, benefits
- Eliminates the need to lie to your employer or boss
- Avoids leaving your boss/friend in the lurch

The only minor downside to this plan is having to work, part-time, for 3-4 weeks.


wordnerd

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2017, 04:52:35 PM »
I'm in a very similar situation so am posting to follow.

Zamboni

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2017, 04:57:33 PM »
^^ That is what I did . . . it worked pretty well. In my case my maternity leave started unexpectedly early, so my work wasn't all neatly tied up in a bow when I went on leave. I came back briefly after leave was over, and I was able to get ducks in a row during the two weeks part time, which eliminated any lingering guilt I had about leaving that employer.

JoJo

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2017, 05:12:10 PM »
I've never had a baby so not really qualified but since dad is SAHD anyways, it doesn't seem like it would be terrible to actually go back for the full 2 weeks notice.   Maybe they'd let you out early.

Don't be surprised if people think it's unfair you were paid and had insurance for this period.  I might have resentment if a boss and coming out of my budget. 

monkeymind

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2017, 07:27:30 PM »
Hi tetrahydrasonic,

Congratulations on the impending new addition to your family! 


Make sure you confirm your company's policies surrounding maternity leave as you make plans. Some company's (like mine) stipulate that, if you don't return to work after leave, you have to repay the financial benefits accrued during the absence. If you're using vacation days, that wouldn't apply, but in our case, any short-term disability benefit has to be repaid if the employee doesn't return. 

You wouldn't want to get caught with a big surprise bill when you officially part ways.

Best wishes in navigating your entry into FIRE!

CloserToFree

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2017, 10:30:25 PM »
Congrats! I'm posting to follow because we're in a similar situation except it's DH who's contemplating quitting after an extended parental leave.  Kid #2 due in March, I enjoy my job more and want to go back at least part time after a 6 mo (mostly unpaid) maternity leave.  Insurance coverage and logistics are considerations for us too.  Will post more once we figure out what we're doing.  (Also, check out the Baby and Pregnancy Chat journal if you're interested - it's awesome.)

MayDay

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2017, 06:27:14 AM »
I would probably negotiate with her to go back part time after your five month leave. Then after being back for a few weeks, give notice.  But tell her you'd love to consult.

That said I think it is fine to just quit a month before your leave ends. But you may lose your insurance as soon as you tell her.
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tetrahydrasonic

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2017, 09:36:48 AM »
researcher1
Towards the end of your maternity leave, tell your company that you want to return part-time.
After 1-2 weeks of part-time work, tell them you've decided you want to be home with your kids, and give 2 weeks notice.


This is a really good thought, and one I'd been considering, but the problem is turning my role into a part-time role would involve quite a lot of work, communicating responsibility changes to other teams, reworking other people on my team's roles etc. I'd feel even worse making my boss and team go through all that to make it possible for me to work part-time, only to quit a few weeks later.

monkeymind
Make sure you confirm your company's policies surrounding maternity leave as you make plans. Some company's (like mine) stipulate that, if you don't return to work after leave, you have to repay the financial benefits accrued during the absence. If you're using vacation days, that wouldn't apply, but in our case, any short-term disability benefit has to be repaid if the employee doesn't return. 

Thank you, this is exactly the kind of thing I was concerned about, but I don't know how to find this out without raising red flags. I don't trust our HR, I'm pretty sure if I ask them this would get back to my manager. Does anyone know if there is another way I could find this out? I'm in CA if that helps, not sure if there are any state rules about this.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2017, 02:20:26 PM »
researcher1
Towards the end of your maternity leave, tell your company that you want to return part-time.
After 1-2 weeks of part-time work, tell them you've decided you want to be home with your kids, and give 2 weeks notice.


This is a really good thought, and one I'd been considering, but the problem is turning my role into a part-time role would involve quite a lot of work, communicating responsibility changes to other teams, reworking other people on my team's roles etc. I'd feel even worse making my boss and team go through all that to make it possible for me to work part-time, only to quit a few weeks later.

monkeymind
Make sure you confirm your company's policies surrounding maternity leave as you make plans. Some company's (like mine) stipulate that, if you don't return to work after leave, you have to repay the financial benefits accrued during the absence. If you're using vacation days, that wouldn't apply, but in our case, any short-term disability benefit has to be repaid if the employee doesn't return. 

Thank you, this is exactly the kind of thing I was concerned about, but I don't know how to find this out without raising red flags. I don't trust our HR, I'm pretty sure if I ask them this would get back to my manager. Does anyone know if there is another way I could find this out? I'm in CA if that helps, not sure if there are any state rules about this.

You could find out by reading your company policies around this, just ask for them. Also, you could contact HR and ask 5 or so questions about family leave and expectations and throw in this, I hate to even think about this, but if anything were to happen and I have to take a break from work to care for a baby with special needs, would that mean paying back my maternity leave?  They will chalk that up to anxious mom and give you the answer.

Also, I hear this person is a friend, but you have to look after you. Companies rarely truly care about their staff, but staff get all caught up in loyalty. If you’re worried you might get fired for being honest, that tells you a lot. If it were me, I’d give them only the notice period required and as long as I didn’t have to pay anything back, I’d be done.

MayDay

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2017, 06:16:55 AM »
If you do the part time plan, consider how fast you will really jump back in.

You can ask for part time and tell your boss you ate really worried about the transition so can tour replacement stay in charge of things for a few weeks so you can get back into it slowly.

Once you start you can tell her how much you ate struggling with two littles at home.

Etc.

You can make it pretty clear to her that you are conflicted and can't just jump back in full force. She won't be shocked if you quit after two week of part time. No huge transitions will likely take place that fast.
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radram

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2017, 07:00:50 AM »
She'll also likely want to have a chat about the logistics of my return plans (we have the option to return part time or WFH)

This is a critical piece of information.

Towards the end of your maternity leave, tell your company that you want to return part-time.
After 1-2 weeks of part-time work, tell them you've decided you want to be home with your kids, and give 2 weeks notice.

This plan has several benefits...
- Keeps your options open during pregnancy and maternity leave (in case you need to return to work)
- Maintains your paid leave, accrued vacation, health insurance, benefits
- Eliminates the need to lie to your employer or boss
- Avoids leaving your boss/friend in the lurch

The only minor downside to this plan is having to work, part-time, for 3-4 weeks.

Congrats on the baby and FIRE plans.

Researcher1 is so smart. I was going to respond the exact same way:)

Until you actually FIRE, any thought of it is just that, a thought. Not only is there no obligation to tell your workplace and friend, you owe your career to keep your mouth shut in case you change your mind. If you told your workplace you were to leave forever, and you changed your mind and decided to keep working, your career might well be over there. You can not say a word.

CloserToFree

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2017, 01:16:49 PM »
I've been thinking about your situation some more, and wanted to chime in to agree with the people who are saying to be sure to look out for yourself first, and not worry too much about "feeling bad" about various aspects of this. Check your employer's policies about any stay-on or pay back requirements.  But don't put too much weight on how your boss will feel, how much work will be created by various courses of action at your disposal, etc.  The fact is, you don't know yet what you're going to want to do at the end of your maternity leave.  And you can't be sure to be paid fully through your leave etc. if you tell them your plans to not come back. 

I know because a friend of mine who worked for a very reputable law firm told them mid-way through her maternity leave that she was accepting a job in-house with one of the firm's clients (a very common practice and actually desirable from a law firm's perspective) when her leave was done and so would not be coming back to the firm.  The firm ended up only paying her for two weeks (or something minimal) beyond when she told them this, so she did not have the full paid leave she had planned, even though she had been led to believe that if she was up front with them she'd be entitled to take the full leave amount as initially planned.  And I think she was on excellent terms with her superiors, but still was treated this way.

So, I guess what I'd suggest is:
-check policies about any repayment/stay on requirements (hopefully none)
-tell work you want to take a 5 month maternity leave. If asked what you want to do upon return, say you're not sure yet and don't want to get ahead of yourself as you know each baby experience is different. If they force the issue, either say you're hoping to come back full time, or you're considering whether part-time might be a good option but don't know yet.
-have baby (yay!)
-proceed with planned maternity leave; set tentative return date.
-as you get closer to your return date, if you've made a definite decision that you're not going back, and don't feel right waiting longer to tell them, then by all means, tell your boss.  But be ready to have your pay and health insurance terminated as soon as they're legally able to terminate it.
-if you're still unsure, proceed with plan to return on said date and see how things go the first couple weeks. As others have said, it's entirely normal for someone returning from maternity leave to change her mind about how the plan matches up to reality.  Worst case, you go back full time for a couple weeks, then apologetically quit/give notice, saying this just isn't working out for you or your family and you want to spend time as a SAHP.

In short, I don't think there's anything wrong about taking things one step at a time, so don't feel guilted into preemptively raising your plans (really, hopes) to not return.

Noodle

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2017, 02:03:52 PM »
I think you are getting great advice, and well-thought reminders to not be afraid to put your own family's needs first. Another thing to keep in mind is whether you ever plan to use these professional connections again. If so, then it's fine to be non-committal (I think everyone reasonable understands that family life can be really different in actuality in comparison to plans) but be careful about burning bridges. Ie--if you don't think you're going to want to go back on a permanent basis but you feel you need to work for a few weeks in order to secure benefits, then just go back full time. Don't make your boss spend a lot of time and political capital to make arrangements for you that you will then leave in two weeks, because the word of mouth (and references) for you won't be great.

And by the way, this is yet another reminder of why our current parental leave system is such a headache. If maternity leave worked like, say, unemployment insurance and it was just a pool that everyone paid into, which you get no matter what your future plans, it would be so much easier for everyone to be honest and make plans accordingly. But you have to work with what we have...

Del Griffith

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2017, 03:16:47 PM »
Look into the specific policies around leave with your employer and your state laws. If you’re concerned, discussions with HR are *supposed* to be confidential, so HR staff really shouldn’t be sharing your conversations with them around the office or to your supervisor. And if you think something they are saying isn’t adding up, like it doesn’t line up with state laws, advocate for yourself. A friend of mine had to correct HR several times on what she was entitled to state-wise after the company underwent some changes and her HR ended up updating/clarifying their policy to reflect what was accurate. As far as ensuring you keep your benefits up until you leave, it is possible you will have to bring yourself back into paid status, like you are back working collecting a check before you can submit your resignation. Otherwise, you may be on the hook for any benefits your job covered for you while on leave. For example, if you pay 20% of your medical insurance and your job pays the other 80%, you may have to pay your portion and your job’s portion dating back to when you went out months prior, which could leave you with a doozy of a bill. The same could potentially go for returning part-time — it will just depend on your employer’s policies and what benefits you are entitled to depending on your work status (full time vs. reduced full-time vs. part-time, etc.). And once you are back in paid status, you’d just have to give your employer’s required notice so you don’t lose out on any accrued PTO or anything.

I am in the midst of navigating this as well. Good luck!

Car Jack

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2017, 03:44:28 PM »
My boss at Megacorp was my friend until the Grand Sith applied the formula to my age and salary and found that I must be banished.  My friend became the biggest monster there is.  Yah, much worse than Vader.  Expect "your friend" to deliver news that your insurance is immediately cancelled and you owe 5 months pay back to them because of section 325 paragraph 12 of the HR rules and regulations.

Go back.  Understand the HR rules.  Work as long as needed then give notice and leave.

Johnez

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #21 on: December 10, 2017, 09:56:08 PM »
This!^

Company policies aren't created by your friend, and definitely will not be your friend when the company's best interest are on the line.  There is no reason or benefit to the company to extend your maternity leave to all that you are "entitled" to when you plan to leave them anyway. 

Acastus

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #22 on: December 11, 2017, 11:02:06 AM »
Check your leave policy. For my family leave last year, my insurance  continued over the gap, with the promise that I would be returning to work. If you decide to not return to work, your company might be allowed to cancel your insurance during the leave. If your leave starts only a couple weeks before delivery, that could be a disaster.

mm1970

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Re: When do I tell my boss I don't want to go back after maternity leave?
« Reply #23 on: December 11, 2017, 05:23:39 PM »
I am lucky enough to be getting very close to FIRE and pregnant with my second child. After much number-juggling and discussion with my husband (who is a SAHD) we think that we'll be able to manage annually on 4% of what our stash will be by the end of my maternity leave. We also both think we may want to do some form of paid part-time work in future when the kids are older: carpentry (him), consulting (me) or tutoring (both), and so will have some options to fill any gaps if need be.

I don't want to 100% decide until after the baby is born, just in case something awful happens health-wise or the baby has special needs which will require expensive care - or even if I just decide that being home with 2 kids is awful and I do want to return to my job, possibly part-time.

However, I am pretty sure that I will know for sure before the end of my ~5 month maternity leave that I want to quit. However, I want to keep being paid through my full leave including vacation I can add onto the end, and more importantly I want to keep my health insurance for as long as I can. Given that, when do I tell my boss that I'm not coming back, if that is what I decide?

I know it seems obvious to just wait until the day before I'm supposed to go back, but my boss is a friend and I'll be leaving her in the lurch. She'll also likely want to have a chat about the logistics of my return plans (we have the option to return part time or WFH) a few weeks before, and I don't want to straight-up lie at that point. But if I tell her would she be obliged to make me quit on the spot, and lose my insurance immediately?
Tell her when you make the decision.

I know people who decided as they packed up the night before that they couldn't do it.

Most of the time I recommend my friends plan to go back to work and try it out.  Easier to quit later if it's not working than it is to go back.