Thinking About Resigning After Maternity Leave? Here’s What You Need To Know
How Women Decide Whether or Not to Resign After Maternity Leave
It is no secret that balancing a family and a job can feel like a circus act. As more and more couples start as a dual-income household, the arrival of a baby may prompt a conversation about whether someone will resign. There are a number of reasons we will discuss about why women are statistically more likely to resign from their jobs after having a baby. In this article, we will help you ask the necessary questions and give you information to help guide your path as a new mom if you’re thinking about resigning after maternity leave. Spoiler alert: This is about figuring out what is best for you and your family. There is no right answer.
Some women find that once they birth their baby, their desire to be at home rises. In this case, families can look at the factors to see if they can make a way for the mother to stay at home. Other women find that they feel like a better mom when they are working. For these families, they must evaluate the factors to find a way to secure care while the parents work. For other families, the potential of a stay-at-home-dad or non-birthing partner brings up other aspects of finances, time, purpose and more.
Women Are More Likely to Resign Than Their Male Co-Workers
According to a recent LinkedIn Working Together study, nearly half of working women take time off beyond their allotted maternity leave. The study found the average break to be around 2 years. Consistently in studies around work and family, results find that women are more likely to take time off than male counterparts.
Breastfeeding & Caregiving
In companies that do not have an accommodating policy around pumping breaks and a comfortable place to pump, the desire to continue breastfeeding may be a factor for moms. While a mother should not have to choose between continuing her breastfeeding journey and being in the workplace, unfortunately, many still feel this tension. Women also tend to take on more of the caregiving responsibility for a newborn, which translates into the months and years after giving birth. If a family is unable to find a care taking option they are comfortable with, this can play a big role in the decision of whether to resign or return to work.
Breadwinner & INcome gap
Unfortunately, there is still an income gap in many industries. This income gap between males and females in the workplace leaves many women feeling more pressure to leave the workplace for financial reasons. According to Payscale, in 2020 women earned 81 cents for every dollar earned by men. If a heterosexual couple is making decisions around family, finance, and work, this can leave women more likely to resign.
A lot of progress has been made over the last few years around work, parenting, and shared responsibilities. However, there is still a general understanding that the birthing mother takes on more of the caregiving role and is quicker to turn in a resignation letter. There’s consistently marketing and messaging to women about how to “do it all” while actually burning women out. One area of progress that is reflected in societal statistics is that of stay-at-home-dads. Pew Social Trends indicates that from 1989-2021 the amount of SAHDs (stay-at-home-dad) doubled. It is predicted that this number has continued to rise.
Factors that May Impact a Parent Resigning After Having a Baby
In the US, there is no guaranteed structure for childcare after having a baby. Many families find themselves seeking childcare openings while they are pregnant or even while trying to conceive. Availability and affordability play a big role in making choices for work and family after having a baby. For many women, including myself as a first-time mom, the cost of childcare was so near to the take-home pay, that there was little income after paying for childcare. This was the main force that drove me out of the workplace and one I hear echoed from many mothers.
If your childcare facility closes at 5, and you are expected to be at your workplace until 5, that is not going to work. Or, if you have to use up all of your sick time and PTO for maternity leave, that leaves no flexibility for pediatrician appointments, ear infections, personal illness and other needs. Lack of flexibility in the workplace may contribute to the discussion around whether to resign after having a baby.
Some parents feel they must return to work after having a baby in order to maintain benefits. With healthcare and other benefits tied to the workplace, this can be a big factor in the need to return to work after having a baby.
The financial need of the family can sway you to stay in the workplace if the finances exceed the costs of return. Or, they can sway you to resign from your job, at least temporarily, if the cost of returning goes beyond the take-home pay opportunity. For some families, this means reevaluating the budget and making cuts. For others, it means reevaluating the work and home set up to find a more accommodating way.
Relationship With Employer
For those who know they want to return to their career after maternity leave or an extended stay, maintaining the relationship with the employer becomes a priority. If you are on a career path that requires recommendations, possible promotions, etc. you may face the tension of whether you can take an extended time off without repercussions.
It’s unfortunate that these factors often play such a big role in a woman’s decision around work after having a baby. A decision that should be rooted in your family’s values and desires can be skewed by things like childcare, finances, relationship, flexibility, and benefits. Again, this decision is about what’s best for you and your family.