There may come a time in everyone’s career when a leave of absence may be necessary, be it for maternity (or paternal) leave, family crisis or a leave to get extended training or continued education. But how do you ensure you will still have your job when you return? There are several things to do to stay in the loop at work.
• If possible, give your employer as much notice as you can. While this may not be possible if it is a medical emergency, try to help make arrangements to cover your work responsibilities while you are gone. Also put the details of your leave of absence in writing.
• Supply your coworkers with the information they may need while you are away. Get them up to date on all your projects.
• Once you are out of the office, stay in touch with co-workers. Check in with friends at work once a week, to find out office news, new projects that you may be able to continue to from home, and just to touch base.
• Get together casually with colleagues to maintain a network. This could be co-workers or other colleagues in the same field.
• If you hear about a project you would like to give your feedback to, do. Your suggestions may be key to its success.
• If you continue to work from home, supply your boss with a weekly project status report. Stay on top of all your work. This is what Ericka Blount did when she took a maternity leave from her job as staff writer at The City Paper. “Fortunately for the first two months they really let me just focus on taking care of my newborn baby. By the third month it was clear that they missed me (or rather, missed my work) so they would call periodically,” she says. “I did some interviews and wrote some articles during my last month of maternity leave.”
• Make sure to take your leave. Don’t do the same amount of work from home that you did in the office. Take the time off you need. Says Blount, “I would advise women or men who are on maternity leave to use that time exclusively for your baby. The time goes by fast and it’s time that you can’t get back.”