Click to Get Your Free Maternity Leave Proposal
Are you thinking of asking for a raise before going on maternity leave? Learn a strategy and timing tip from this client case study.
Megan*, 33, is the head librarian and media coordinator for a large private prep school on the west coast. She’s a relatively new employee, having started 11 months ago.
Besides that, she’s due to have her first child in a few months, making for an interesting mix of work-life challenges.
She consulted with me a few weeks ago to help her refine what she wants for maternity leave and for returning to work on a reduced workweek schedule. In fact, Megan is already sure about what she wants:
“I’d like to have a four-month maternity leave, a gradual return to work, and then work four days a week, with one day working from home.”
But wait, there’s more. Because it’s almost time for her one-year performance review, Megan plans to ask for a 5% raise, too, and has questions about her strategy as it relates to her maternity leave.
Strategy: Asking for a Raise Before Going on Maternity Leave
Because Megan plans to reduce her work hours after her maternity leave ends, I stressed the importance of getting the biggest raise possible before having her salary pro-rated when she returns to work on a part-time schedule.
Job performance is not an issue; Megan says her manager is thrilled with her work initiatives and achievements to date.
Get the Timing Right. Asking Works!
Because she’s planning on asking for a raise before going on maternity leave, Megan recently emailed me with a few follow up questions:
“I need to give them this [maternity leave] proposal before my performance review, which will be coming up soon. Should I ask for a 5% raise at the same time that I’m presenting my maternity leave proposal, or should I let that conversation be separate after my maternity leave proposal? I was really hoping for the job review before having to present the maternity leave proposal, but I’m not sure that I have that option.”
Let me challenge you to reply to Megan’s questions. What strategy would you suggest? How should she position her requests? How do your answers compare with mine?
Here’s the rest of our email exchange:
Should I ask for a 5% raise at the same time that I’m presenting my maternity leave proposal?
No, have the two discussions separately. The raise discussion connects with the performance review, and you want to keep that distinction clear.
I was really hoping for the job review before having to present the maternity leave proposal, but I’m not sure that I have that option.
Yes, that would be a better order of events. You want to secure the raise first and that happens at the job performance review. So, I’m going to encourage you to ASK for that OPTION. (I have a theme in my advice, can you tell?)
Here’s what to do: Let them know that you are crafting your maternity leave plan with consideration of both their needs and yours and that some of the specifics of the plan will be influenced by the outcome of your performance review. For that reason, you’d like to push up your performance review to (date), so that you can deliver a timely maternity leave proposal plan by (date).
Oh my goodness, it really is all about asking. Why is that such a hard hump to get over?! Even for a pretty good negotiator, which I definitely consider myself. Well, I just asked and of course got a YES.
Okay, the new order of things is as follows: performance review, maternity leave proposal, and then discussion about who will cover what while I’m gone. Phew. Much better. Thanks so much.
You’re not alone: sometimes, women don’t even think to ask. Nice going. Can’t wait to hear how this plays out. (See Update, below.)
What Can We Learn From Megan’s Experience
Megan’s experience is an excellent example of how we as women sometimes work against ourselves with assumptions: “I was really hoping for the review before the proposal, but I’m not sure that I have that option.” (Emphasis mine.)
If your performance review is due (or overdue), don’t let an impending maternity leave stop you from getting it done and asking for a salary increase if it’s merited.
And if you need an adjustment in timing your requests to support your strategy, go ahead and ask for what you want. Of course, be prepared with a strategy and position your request favorably, but ask.
Asking for a raise before going on maternity leave may seem daunting because both are “big ask” requests, yet they are separate and need to be handled as such. My resources can help you pull it off. Explore the top and bottom menus of this page to learn more.
*Name and identifying details changed to retain privacy.
Update: As is typical of most negotiations, Megan reports getting some, but not all, of her desired terms. This included a full 15 weeks of maternity leave followed by nine months of a four-day workweek (32 hours), working from home one of those days each week. After that, she plans to return to a five-day, full-time schedule with one day a week from home.
The gradual return to work arrangement proved too complicated, she said, but that was eased by the four-day workweek arrangement she secured. She was granted a raise of 3%, (the national average at this writing), which fell short of her goal of 5%.
But overall, she is most pleased with the time off she will have with her son during the first year of his life.
Want a Flex Work Schedule After Your Baby Arrives?
Follow Megan’s example and use one of my proposal template packages below. (She used the Part-time version to request a four-day workweek.) Download it today; done by tomorrow.