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Maternity leave. How long is too long?

Posted by
18 Aug 2014

Having just returned to Sellick Partnership following a four year career break to look after my young family, I thought it most appropriate to write my first blog around the question "How long is too long in respect of maternity leave?"

Shortly before my final decision to return to the workplace, Harriet Green, the chief executive of Thomas Cook, gave an interview to The Times in which she was quoted as saying "For me, a year feels a little long. Women out of the workplace lose confidence very fast."

Coupled with well meaning advice from friends and family, gently suggesting I lower my expectations as to what I take on at first rather than jump straight back into my career of choice, this gave me pause for thought.

Did I still have the ability and confidence to allow me the same level of success I had enjoyed pre-children? Would I fit back into the groove of a busy working life? After all, I had spent the last four years immersed in the role as full time mum. I had barely stepped back into the busy city centre that had once been a second home.

I found myself with a newfound empathy for the mothers that I had once often helped as a recruitment consultant - legal professionals who still wanted a career in law but were unsure how to return to the workplace and juggle the responsibilities of home.

I do take on board Harriet Green's view point; confidence does fade the longer you are out of work. However, from my own personal experience it doesn't mean it is lost forever. My own personal experience is that after four years of caring for my young children, I felt that the time was right for me to return to work. I have been at home during the early years and we are now all ready to enjoy some independence away from the family nest.

As a result, I have returned back with confidence and enthusiasm in a job that satisfies my ambitions. 

I would encourage others in a similar position to not shy away from returning to a career they once enjoyed out of fear that 'they won't be good enough', or settle for a job that is second best out of a misguided notion that you have been away from work for too long.

Additionally, I further appreciate the attraction of the legal locum market to newly returning mothers as it does offer a good degree of flexibility. Perhaps taking on a three month locum assignment rather than a permanent position may seem less daunting at first.

Working in the recruitment industry, I have always found pleasure assisting candidates secure a locum role following a career break and I am sure I will now more than ever, as I have a personal understanding of the journey they have been on in their decision to return to work.

If you would like to discuss your current career situation either as an existing locum or parent returning to the workforce, please contact me on 0161 8341642 or e-mail nferguson@sellickpartnership.co.uk - we have the options to match your ambitions.

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