There’s no other factor likely to have a bigger impact on your career than having a child, so how do you return to work when it’s all said and done?
1. Prepare your departure
The first step is to prepare long before you even leave and that includes both partners, NAB SMSF director Gemma Dale told Your Money Live.
“[Not only does] the woman needs to have a chat with her employer but both of you need to take it in consideration if you’re in a couple when you have a child,” Dale said.
“You won’t know until you speak to your employer just what they’re willing to offer you so talk to them in advance and know what the government paid parental scheme will offer you if your employer has limited arrangements or nothing at all,” she explained.
One good option could be the possibility of working without returning to the workplace.
“So many parents work from home now… technology has enabled a lot more flexibility for some people,” Dale said.
2. Do a stocktake of your savings
While you might have every intention of making a speedy return to work, ensure you’ve got enough savings in case you need to fall back on them.
While the data for mums returning to work is lacking somewhat, there are encouraging signs, according to Dale.
“The ABS has published some data from 2017 that says of the roughly 500,000 mums with children under two, around 40 per cent of them were back in the workplace,” she said.
“Generally women who have been working up until the point they have a baby, are more likely to go back and when they have a baby around 80 per cent will stay with the same employer so it shows that employers are making an attempt to retain mothers,” she added.
If you need to spend longer at home than you anticipated or find that you need to switch jobs, those savings might make all the difference.
3. Childcare concerns
One of the most difficult decisions, however, remains when to go back.
While everyone’s situation is different, the biggest factor will be what your childcare options are.
“Roughly half of the parents having children being cared for are having them cared for outside formal childcare arrangements. It’s usually grandparents who take that role,” Dale explained.
Unless you have that option of relying on a relative to look after a child, the cost of childcare can quickly eat up the salary you make when you return to work.
Depending on your situation, the cost may not be worth bearing.
But it’s more than simply a matter of finances.
“If you’ve been out of the workforce for six years – which is how long it’ll be if you don’t go back until your child goes back to school – your skills may no longer be relevant,” Dale explained.
Accordingly, while difficult to balance with responsibilities at home, upskilling could make all the difference when you do return to the workforce.
“If you’re not keeping your skills up, the financial cost and the impact to your employability and salary is dramatic. You suddenly go from being a skilled worker to an unskilled worker so consider it an investment rather than a foregone loss,” she said.
Watch the full segment above.