Interviewing After a Maternity Leave
Many mothers find themselves surprised that they no longer have a job after a prolonged maternity leave. After all, isn’t the Family Medical Leave Act supposed to protect you from this kind of thing? Well, yes and no. The FMLA does a lot toward protecting the rights of both mothers and fathers when it comes to maternity or paternity leave, but it also protects employers, too. For example, if you have been at your job for less than one year, the FMLA will not protect your job. If an employer needs to let you go so that they can hire someone else to take your position, then they have the right to do this if you have been with the company for less than one year. That’s a tough blow to many people, but unfortunately, that is the current situation of the law and many people are affected by it.
But now that you are back from your maternity leave, what is the next step? First, you need to decide what kind of career you are looking for. Do you want to try and pick up where you left off, or are you ready for something completely new? Going with what your experience lay is a good idea if you enjoyed that line of work, but do not be surprised if you find yourself being “demoted” as you go back into the work force. This is especially the case if you are switching to a different company. Unfortunately, that’s just the way that it is in the business world sometimes. The best way to overcome this is to work hard and show that you are willing to put in the time and effort to help the company. No one cares about your past history or what is in it for you, at least not when it comes to promotions. What your bosses care about is what you can do for them and for the company. By being willing to work hard to get back to where you were, you are showing them that you are a valuable asset to the company.
Some people have the fear that they will not get a job because they have had a child, and that this is indicative of the fact that they might miss time in the future for this reason. That is not a legal reason to deny someone a job. As long as your past history of employment doesn’t show a history of absenteeism, then you have no reason to worry about this. Indicate at your interview that you left the company on good terms, but had to part ways because family is more important than work. This is not something that anyone will ever argue with or hold against you. There’s no reason to worry about family commitments and your job if you have never had to worry about getting to work because of them before.
Finally, the elephant in the room should always be addressed. If you aren’t the first one to bring it up at the interview, a future employer might take it as a sign that you are trying to avoid the problem or that you are trying to hide it. Don’t fall into this situation. Instead, bring it up right away. Say something like, “I was let go from my previous job because I had been with the company for less than a year when I began my maternity leave. I wasn’t let go because I didn’t keep up with my responsibilities, but rather because it was the best move for the company.” This will indicate to the prospective employer that you are responsible for your own actions and that you are willing to engage in important and difficult dialogues when necessary.