Archive for October, 2012

Resignation After Maternity Leave - How to do it well

Resignation After Maternity Leave – How to do it well

Decided not to return to work after your maternity leave? If so, your resignation after maternity leave needs to be handled sensitively and diplomatically. Let me share with you the key mindset you need and top tips that will help you handle it well.

If you decide not to return to your previous job after your maternity leave and decide to resign it is best to handle the situation carefully to make sure that you maintain a positive relationship with your employer.

No matter how certain you feel that your decision to not return to work after maternity leave is the right answer for you or your family or how liberated you feel leaving your employer, you never know what might happen in the future. After spending some time at home you may decide that you really miss your job and the intellectual stimulation and financial independence it provided you. You may find that your family situation changes and financial pressures are such that you can no longer afford to stay at home and you need to return to work.

Even if you never return to your old employer, you may find that your line manager moves on to head up a team at a new organisation. When you are back in the job market looking for work in a few years time your paths may cross again. You never know what the future will hold so don’t burn any bridges.

When dealing with your resignation after maternity leave, work on the basis that you want to maintain a positive working relationship with your employer and keep a professional stance at all times.

Top Tips for Handling Your Resignation After Maternity Leave

Meet with your line manager to discuss all of the options for your returning to work after maternity leave

  • Carefully consider the options presented to you and make sure you are certain that none of these options provide a viable solution that would allow you to return to work and achieve the work/life balance that you want.
  • If you decide that resigning from your job really is the most appropriate way forward for you, arrange to meet your boss face to face to discuss your decision with them.
  • Be as honest as you can with them and stress how difficult a decision it has been for you.
  • Explain that you have made the decision based on the way you want your family life to shape up rather than any negative feelings towards the organisation.
  • Stress how much you are going to miss working with your employer and the intellectual stimulation that the role provided for you.
  • After the meeting follow up with a formal letter of resignation and a telephone call to make sure that your line manager has received your resignation letter.

Resignation After Maternity Leave: Your Resignation Letter

Your resignation letter doesn’t need to be a long, detailed document. If you have met with your line manager and discussed your reasons for your resignation after maternity leave then you just need to put together a simple, concise, professional document to formally record your decision not to return to work.

Some suggested wording is below to give you a starter for your own resignation letter. It is important that you personalise your letter to your specific situation and where possible refer to the conversation that you had with your line manager about your reasons for your resignation after maternity leave.
Dear (line managers name)

After much thought and consideration, I have decided not to return to work after my maternity leave.

This is a bitter sweet decision as I have always enjoyed working with you and the team but my new family situation means I want to spend as much time as possible with my child.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for such a wonderful time working for you, and for the opportunities and experience I gained
Please accept this letter as formal notice of my resignation, effective from (insert date here)

I wish you and the team every continued success

Kind regards
XXXX
After your resignation after maternity leave try and keep some kind of contact with your ex-employer. This doesn’t need to be a weekly event, in fact they will probably find it a bit odd if you are contacting them every week! But an email/a phone call/a coffee every six months or so will make sure they don’t forget who you are and will allow you to keep updated on what is happening in the organisation and help you spot any opportunities that may come up in the future.

One very effective way of keeping in touch with your old employer is to forward on news stories or email newsletters that you think may be of interest to them. Not only are you maintaining contact with your old employer but you are demonstrating that you are still keeping abreast of what is happening in your industry.

Keeping in touch with your old employer will keep you connected to what is happening in your profession and will also keep them in your network. If you do need to approach them for help when you do decide to return to work it won’t come as a complete bolt from the blue.

If you have indeed decided to resign, I know you will now have the tools to handle it well. Just forget about any current emotions, and make sure you handle it professionally. It’s for your own future.

Author: Nicola Semple is the owner of Life After Maternity Leave, a service dedicated to supporting new or ‘new again’ parents as they make decisions about their life ‘after maternity leave’. Whether that be returning to work after maternity leave, becoming a stay at home mum or doing something different and setting up their own business.

Help - I am being made redundant during maternity leave!

Help – I am being made redundant during maternity leave!

What should you do if you are told that you are at risk of being made redundant whilst you are on maternity leave? Can the situation in fact work to your advantage? In this article, Claire Taylor-Evans, Employment Solicitor, discusses your legal rights in respect of redundancy during maternity leave.

Can an employer select a woman who is on maternity leave for redundancy?

The fact that you are pregnant or on maternity leave does not prevent your employer from selecting you as a candidate for redundancy. However, your employer would be acting in a discriminatory manner and unfairly if they selected you purely for this reason, as this would be. Your employer should have a good business reason for the potential redundancy of your position, identify a fair pool for selection, apply objective selection criteria to this pool of employees and follow a fair process to avoid any claims of unfair dismissal or sex discrimination.

Will Statutory Maternity Payments continue if I am made redundant?

If you are made redundant your maternity leave will come to an end. If however, you have qualified for statutory maternity pay, you will continue to receive it for the remainder of the statutory maternity pay period even if you are made redundant. Often an employer may decide to pay this in one lump sum. You would also be entitled to work or be paid for your notice period. If your employer does not wish to do this, they may ask you to serve your notice period on “garden leave” which means that you will not be required to attend work but will still be paid.

Does my employer have to offer me suitable alternative employment?

Employees on maternity leave are in a more advantageous position than other employees if they are put at risk of redundancy during their maternity leave, as they have right of first refusal over any suitable alternative position in preference to any other employee who is similarly affected by the redundancy.

So what is a suitable alternative position?

  • The work must be both suitable and appropriate.
  • The capacity and place of employment, along with the other terms and conditions of the employment must be no less favourable than if the employee had continued to be employed in her old job.
  • The position must be available for the employee to start immediately after her existing contract ends.

If the role is suitable do I have to take it?

As your employer is obliged to offer you a suitable alternative job, you must bear in mind that if you are offered a job that is a suitable alternative and you unreasonably refuse to accept the offer, you will forfeit your right to a redundancy payment.

Actually, I really would like to be made redundant. Can I orchestrate this?

This is a question I am often asked. Many women decide that they do not wish to return to work after maternity leave or they are in two minds because of their financial situation.

Often they would quite like to be considered for a redundancy package, particularly if their employer is offering more than statutory redundancy (currently £430 per year of service). However, many employers will not raise this option with a woman on maternity leave as they are concerned about repercussions.

If you are told that you are at risk of redundancy, and are part of a redundancy pool, you could volunteer to be made redundant.

Your employer may state that they are not looking for any voluntary redundancies, although this is something they really should consider before making compulsory redundancies. Even if you do volunteer, they are not obliged to accept your offer as you may possess certain skills that other candidates in the pool do not have.

If you think that you may be at risk of being made redundant, or you have been told that you are being made redundant and you are either worried about this, or you would like further advice on this subject, please contact Claire Taylor- Evans.

Author: Claire Taylor-Evans, is an Associate at Boyes Turner LLP, dealing with all aspects of employment law. Claire regularly advises on maternity, sex discrimination and unfair dismissal. Claire performs advocacy at employment tribunals and is a regular speaker at seminars, conferences and events, for the CIPD and Business Forums. She has written on employment law for Personnel Today Online and the Financial Times. You can contact her on ctaylor-evans@boyesturner.com or 0118 9527284, Mob: 07792 908 604

 

Saving your Time for the Things that Matter

Saving your Time for the Things that Matter

As a mum, there are some choices that are easier to make than others. Starting your own business can be an amazingly worthwhile and rewarding decision, but it can also be a potential source of frustration if you try to take on too much at once.

As any online search will demonstrate, there are some great resources out there to help you find your way and plenty of excellent advice offered by those who have been through the experience of juggling a family with a new business. While it might seem difficult to trust that someone else can put in quite as much attention to detail as you feel you would yourself, you’ll soon learn that there are people out there who are very good at what they do and who are willing to work with you to help you achieve your goals.

Making time for your family still needs to be a priority, so delegation is a skill you’re going to have to get used to. While you will have to work hard at building your business and overseeing daily operations, trying to take on every aspect of running a business can lead to difficulties as your focus isn’t on the things that truly matter.

It’s also worth considering that when the time is right, you may need to move to your own premises. Renting serviced offices in Manchester, as well as in other cities across the UK, is one way to establish a presence for your brand without paying expensive leases. This is useful for those who work flexible hours or part time as you can make use of things like hot desks and receptionist services. It could just be the way to put in some focussed hours while your nanny or babysitter is with the children in your home.

How you choose to spend your time, and the decisions you make at these early stages, will be crucial to the eventual success of your business. Make sure that you’re happy with the decisions you make and learn to enjoy the process of creating something that is uniquely yours.

 

Author: Sarah Mitchell, on behalf of i2office, serviced offices in Manchester

Is hiring a Nanny for me?

Is hiring a Nanny for me?

Deciding on your preferred method of childcare when returning to work is always going to be a tough decision to make. There are many choices available to working mothers including Nurseries, Child minders, Preschools and Nannies. We are going to discuss the option of hiring a nanny in more detail throughout this article.

Hiring a Nanny used to be purely the preserve of the Aristocracy or superrich. Thinking of a nanny tends to conjure up an image of either Mary Poppins or a strict, matronly like figure in a traditional starched uniform.
Modern Nannies are now much more commonplace amongst working families. Although hiring a nanny is the most expensive option when it comes to childcare, if you have more than one child the difference may not be as big as you think when you compare it with other available options.

What is a Nanny?

A Nanny is a qualified and/or experienced childcare professional employed to look after children within the employer’s home. Nannies are generally trained to provide care and educational development for children from birth to seven years.
Nannies can be either live in or out, permanent or temporary, and can have complete sole charge of the children or shared charge with the mother, father, grandparent or sometimes another Nanny.
A Nanny is a professional and is not paid to just ‘keep an eye’ on your nearest and dearest. Nanny duties include taking responsibility for the safety and well-being of the children in her care, providing safe, stimulating, age appropriate activities, encouraging development, completing Nursery duties (such as children’s laundry, maintaining tidiness of children’s rooms and preparing children’s meals). A Nanny is not responsible for general household tasks.

How much does a Nanny cost?

Salaries vary, depending on whether the Nanny is live in or out, what qualifications/experience she holds etc.
Nannies will often quote in net salary which means the salary they will take home each hour/day/month. There is not really a pay scale and you can often find that a candidate will ask for a set rate per hour whether there is one child in her care or three.

As you would be the employer in this relationship you would be responsible for paying the Nannies tax and National Insurance contributions as well as employers NI. When setting out a contract it is always important to agree on a GROSS salary rather than Net. This will ensure that you are not liable for any further costs down the line should factors such as tax codes change.

In 2011 the average Nanny salary figures as according to the Nursery World Salary survey 2011 are as follows;
Daily (Live out)
London £34,516
South East £28,713
Other Areas £25,877

Live In
London £26,870
South East £28,713
Other Areas £25,877

When dealing with wages, it is a great idea to enrol the services of a payroll agency. They will act as your agent and do everything for you, from setting up a nanny PAYE scheme and calculating the correct tax and National Insurance payments, to making sure your nanny’s payslips are accurate.

It’s important to remember you are an employer, which means if the nanny is ill and cannot come to work, you will of course still be paying her. She also has the right to maternity leave, and redundancy pay after she has been in your continuous employment for over the legal amount of years.

If you would like your Nanny to drive as part of her job description you will either need to provide a car (which will need to be insured in the Nannies name) and fill this with petrol each week or, hire a Nanny who does not mind using her own car for work purposes – obviously it is the Nannies responsibility to ensure that the car is comprehensively insured for business use. If the Nanny does use her own car then she will make a note of the distance she has been travelling during working hours on a daily basis. This should then be added up either on a weekly or monthly basis and charged at a rate of 45 pence per mile.

Some nannies are happy to take the bus everywhere too.

Is a Nanny for me?

The benefits of hiring a Nanny are great. Obviously the Nanny will arrive at your home every day meaning your little ones will be cared for in their own home and you do not have to worry about dropping them off and collecting them. They get a standard of care that they would not necessarily receive in any other childcare facility in that they have the Nanny all to themselves (or share them with their brothers and sisters).

A nanny can come in when your children are ill, unlike in a nursery. However when the nanny herself is ill, you have to arrange for back-up.

A Nanny can be chosen with your family’s interests and personalities in mind and does not really have to stick to a set curriculum; she can plan the day with your little one in mind, taking them to swimming/football/activities/working on crafts at home. She will also take them to school, liaise with Teachers, shop for their food/clothing, help them with homework and music lessons and make Dr and Dentist appointments so you will not have to take time off from work. She will manage your childs agenda, and social life, thus creating peace of mind for you. Imagine someone reminding you of the parent-evening, and buying birthday presents for other children’s parties!

Nannying is very different to most jobs in that this person becomes very involved in your day-to-day life so it extremely important to discuss your expectations from the start, having regular reviews and encouraging your Nanny to speak out about any issues she may have. A great Nanny who fits in well with your family is hard to find so do remember this and treat her with respect and like any employee you would have in the office. Do check out more tips and ideas on keeping your nanny happy here. 

What are the next stages?

When you have decided that hiring a Nanny is the most suitable option, you can either use an agency or recruit the Nanny yourself. A good agency will meet all candidates personally and check all their documents and references, they should also save you a lot of time by listening specifically to the personality you require and only send through suitable candidates.

If you decide to recruit independently then be sure to check that the Nanny has an enhanced CRB check, and up to date first Aid certificate (or is willing to undertake first aid training before starting the role, which is usually paid for by the employer) and has references to back up their work history. Even if you decide to source your Nanny through an agency I would advise that you speak with at least one referee, you can then have a ‘parent to parent’ chat and really get a feel for the how the candidate would work and if there are any weaknesses that you would want to be alerted to.

Recruiting a Nanny can take anything from a couple of weeks to a few months. I am often asked how long this process takes and liken the process to dating! You can meet a candidate with an excellent CV but if they do not fit in with your views, ideals and family life then the relationship will not work! Regularly it takes about 4-8 weeks at least, as most nannies need to work their notice period of 4-8 weeks at their previous job.

Once you have decided on a shortlist of candidates you would like to meet, I would advise on having an initial interview without the children around. If you are happy and would like to meet the candidate again then a second interview should be arranged. I would recommend using this as an opportunity to introduce the Nanny to the children and observe how she interacts and engages with them. Obviously the atmosphere will never be quite the same with so many adults around – the children can potentially act up – it is a good idea to spend some time together then perhaps hide upstairs where you can give the Nanny and children space to get to know each other but still hear what is going on.

Once you have decided on a candidate and they have accepted the role it is important to both sign a written agreement. Drawing up a contract at the beginning of a relationship with your nanny can save lots of problems later on. It is important to spend time thinking about what you expect from your Nanny so that you can set it all out in black and white thus avoiding any confusion. It is much easier to sort this out at the start with a written agreement and contract than to try and add duties and house rules later on when they might be resented. If you found your Nanny through an agency then they should have a standard contract they adapt for Clients. If not, there are plenty of templates to be found online.

It is important to have regular meetings or appraisals perhaps one a month, a Nanny will not necessarily be used to voicing her grievances and many candidates will keep things bottled up for months before mentioning them – this is a sure fire way of little issues turning into huge problems before the employer has even realised there is anything amiss! Telling your Nanny that you appreciate them regularly is a great thing to do, try not to take her for granted.

(Please note that throughout this article I have referred to the Nanny as being female. By no means is Nannying a female only profession, Male Nannies or ‘Mannies’ are now also extremely common.)

Author: Tanja Jelley of Mortimer Nannies. Tanja is a fully qualified Nanny and Maternity Nurse, Tanja now runs Mortimer Nannies, a Nanny agency placing Nannies and Childcare specialists throughout the UK and overseas. Mortimer Nannies also run Nanny and Parenting workshops and have organised childcare over the summer for festivals such as Vintage, Wilderness and Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival.

 

Should you try and work during maternity leave?

Should you try and work during maternity leave?

Can you work during maternity leave? What happens if you do? And what are the pros and cons of working during maternity leave? Claire Taylor-Evans, an employment solicitor, discusses whether it is worth trying to work during maternity leave.

During your maternity leave, you may worry that you will be forgotten, that you will fall behind with important changes that may happen at your workplace, or that you may miss out on training opportunities.  Your employer, of course, is allowed to make reasonable contact with you during your maternity leave, for example to update you on any important changes in your workplace, or perhaps any opportunities for promotion or job vacancies.

Making reasonable contact is one thing, but should you pro-actively request to work during your maternity leave?

You are entitled to undertake up to ten days’ work for your employer whilst you are on maternity leave without losing your right to statutory maternity pay.  These days are known as “keeping in touch” days, or “KIT” days.

Pros of KIT days

KIT days can provide a number of advantages for both you and your employer:

  •  Training and development can continue during maternity leave – KIT days can be useful for activities such as undertaking a training course, a team event or an appraisal interview;
  • If you have been closely involved in a particular assignment or project, it may be helpful for you to attend during important parts or at the launch of the project;
  • Keeping in contact with your workplace in this way may help to ease any worries you have about returning to your job;
  • You are likely to feel more confident knowing that you are actively maintaining your professional profile and presence in your workplace;
  • Your employer can speak to you about any workplace issues and changes. 

Cons of KIT days

  •  You will have to consider childcare and any associated cost;
  • You may have to work for free – your employer is not obliged to pay you any extra over and above your SMP entitlement (see below);
  • If you are asked to work any KIT days and refuse, you may worry that your employer does not feel you are committed to your job;
  • Some employers feel that KIT days could end up as ‘catching-up-on-gossip days’, as employees may simply come in and chat for a few hours and not get much work done!

How do KIT days work?

If you work up to ten KIT days you will not forfeit your statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance, nor will your maternity leave end.

Whether you take advantage of these days is your choice and your employer does not have any right to insist that you work. Any days you do take should be agreed between you and your employer.

You can take KIT days as single days or in blocks of days.  Once you have used up your 10 KIT days, if you do any further work you will lose a week’s statutory maternity pay for the week in which you have done that work.  For example, if a week in your maternity pay period contains your last KIT day and you do a further day’s work in the same week, you will lose statutory maternity pay for that week.

Any work you do as a KIT day, even as little as half an hour, will be counted as a whole KIT day.  So, for example, you would not be able to work 20 half KIT days.

You cannot work during the “compulsory maternity leave period”, which are the two weeks immediately after your child is born.

KIT days cannot be used to extend your maternity leave period.

Payment for working during maternity leave

Your employer must pay you, as a minimum, the statutory maternity pay due for that week.  Any additional payment for the work you do on a KIT day will need to be agreed with your employer.  Most employers will pay your normal pay rate for the day.  It is also possible that you could negotiate to have time off in lieu.  There may be information on payment for KIT days in your contract, or in your employer’s maternity policy, so check these if you are unsure.  If there is nothing in writing, speak to your HR department.

Take advantage and do work during maternity leave

In our experience, we would highly recommend that mothers take full advantage of their KIT days’ entitlement.  Not only are they a brilliant way to keep in face to face contact with your employer, but they can also help to make your return to work easier and smoother.  It is possible that you may have lost some confidence after having a long period of leave.  By using KIT days to keep abreast of changes in your workplace and to ease your way back into work, you should feel happier and more confident in your return.

Author: Claire Taylor Evans. Claire is an employment lawyer for Boyes Turner.  If you are concerned about how your employer manages KIT days, or you have further queries, please contact Claire Taylor- Evans at ctaylor-evans@boyesturner.com or 0118 9527284.