It’s not all about the money, honey!

it's not all about the money - four financial reasons, other than your pay packet, to return to work

Returning to work after having a baby can be tough. There’s the guilt about leaving your child in the care of another. It’s a constant rush to get everyone out the door and where they need to be on time. If you work part time, like me, there’s a constant niggle that you’re not really doing anything properly. You’re not contributing fully at work, yet you’re not fully immersed in home life either. Then there are the positives, getting that brain working again. Adult conversation, about non-baby related stuff. A pay packet. Yet it’s easy to only focus on the pay packet. Or rather what is left after you’ve paid for childcare. Here’s the thing, it’s not all about the money. By money, I mean your fortnightly pay. Here are four other financial benefits of returning to work.

It’s not all about the money, there’s super

Superannuation is not sexy, but it’s worth thinking about. Women tend to both retire earlier than men and live longer. Yet, women earn less and often have fragmented patterns of work, due to periods out of the workforce to have babies. The upshot of all this is that when women retire, they have less money in their superannuation funds, about $90,000 less! While part-time work probably won’t make you rich, it will help you later in life.

It’s not all about the money, there’s leave

An often overlooked benefit of returning to work is that you’re entitled to annual leave and sick leave. If you decided to go on a holiday, you’ll get paid while you’re there. Without encouraging you to pro-create, if you do plan on having another baby, it makes sense to head back to work. There are probably some minimum work requirements, but receiving paid maternity leave, and having a job you’re entitled to return to, well that’s not something to be sneezed at!

It’s not all about the money, there’s repaying student loans

If you went to Uni and then had chunks of time out of the workforce, chances are you might still have a HELP debt. While getting rid of a HELP loan isn’t exactly exciting, it’d be fabulous to be free of the debt and have the money in your own pocket! If you’re earning enough to be repaying your HELP debt, it’s probably worth chipping away at it.

It’s not all about the money, keep a ‘hand in’

While those years of work after having a child might not be trail blazing, it’s probably worth keeping a hand in your career. There’s no hole in your CV, you keep your skills up to date (and you learn about all the pesky changes made to the IT systems), and you don’t lose your confidence. Plus, there’s a lot to be said for maintaining those professional relationships you worked so hard to develop. What’s the saying about out of sight, out of mind? It’s kind of true if you disappear from the paid workforce for a long period of time.

Thankfully my return to work (x3) after maternity leave has always been reasonably simple. Unfortunately, a report from the Australian Human Rights Commission suggests that’s not always the case. Apparently one in two mothers report experiencing workplace discrimination at some point during pregnancy, parental leave or on return to work. If things don’t go smoothly, get some legal advice on where you stand.

This post is brought to you by Firths the Compensation Lawyers

Have you ever had any drama when returning to work after maternity leave?

24 thoughts on “It’s not all about the money, honey!

  1. No dramas as such but it hasn’t always gone smoothly and we have had to re-assess how we do things. Like when I went back full-time with three kids requiring care we discovered that full-time work was far less financially beneficial for us than 3 days per fortnight and the stress levels of full-time teaching compared to those of a part-time 3 day per fortnight were so vastly different that it wasn’t worth it to work full-time for me or us as a family.

    Working isn’t as you say all about the money and when it is possible assessing why you are there and the reasons for doing it are really important. Sometimes it is incredibly important for families to work but when it is a choice rather than a need for the household making sure that choice works for you is really important.

  2. I returned part time at two days per week after being part time for less than a year prior to parental leave. My new boss (female with children) summed up my previous work experience as an EL1 in the public service, by saying ‘so as a part timer you’ve been left in the corner to rot’ (words like that tend to stick in your memory).
    Before my leave there had been 11 people in my section, under the new boss 7 had left in 5 months with none being replaced so the workload would have been unachievable even as a full time employee let alone part time. So my experience of attitude part time work was not great to say the least 😐.

  3. Yes, I had a world of drama on return from maternity leave, thanks in no small part to the woman who I had pushed to fill my role in my absence, who then decided she wanted to retain the role permanently and waged a manipulative campaign to ensure it happened. Add that to the company suddenly reshuffling roles and requiring me to come in from leave before I returned to interview for my own position which I ended up not being successful for (aftrer 7 years in it). Lucky another position was opened up for me but it was still a lot of drama that I did not need at the time. Going back to work wasn’t all about the money for me (however I still have full-time tastes on a part-time income) but more about having enjoyment in my work and finding the balance between home duties and work.

  4. I’ve been lucky to have found it easy to return to work twice after having my babies. I changed from full time to part time work after having my twins and then after my third child was in school I reduced my part time hours even further to enable me to be there for the school pick up and after school activities.

    1. It’s interesting that you say you are lucky, because really, employers should value and support part-time work.

  5. I found returning to work wasn’t just financial either. I really enjoyed having conversations with people that didn’t revolve around the bodily functions of a baby. And it was nice to be respected for your skills in something other than cutting a vegemite sandwich into perfect triangles or knowing the names of every dinosaur.

    1. Excellent points Rachel! I’m rather impressed you know the names of every dinosaur. I’m still working on that.

      1. I just made them up in the end. Longtailspikeysaurus, nobbyheadedsaratops… It’s all about sounding authoritative! Plus there’s lots of fun in being corrected everytime.

  6. You make some great points Claire – I really wanted to return to teaching after my first to make sure I got maternity leave pay for my second (and that’s why I wanted a proper teaching position, not just relief teaching). I also love my job!

  7. I went back part time after my second child, but it’s been a struggle. I’ve actually just handed in my resignation and am setting myself up as a freelancer as of June! That will certainly not be all about the money!

  8. Great points! People often focus on the money – why return when you’re just breaking even? – but after seven years out of the corporate work force, I’m realising that even breaking even IS about the money. It’s about not going backwards when you are ready to return to work, or not missing out on promotion opportunities in the meantime. Hubster and I were earning the same when I finished up. Now I’ll never catch up!

    1. Thanks Emily. Mr Wallace and I were earning basically the same when I had my first son, even though I’ve returned to work between each child, I’ll never catch up either!

  9. I have been out of the workforce for 8 years as I have been raising my two girls, and only just thinking of returning on a part-time basis. But its so hard to find something part-time that fits in with the ‘real’ school hours (not 9-3, but incl drop-offs and picking up). Its making me rethink about what I want to do, and whether I can get into a job as a freelancer or work for myself.

    1. Oh Julie, I totally agree that real school hours are not 9-3, unless your workplace is next door to the school!

  10. Returning to work is also about security of income! What happens if your partner loses their job, or heaven forbid something happens to them and they cant work. Or many other scenarios. Few people have completely secure employment these days.

    On another note, I like your blog, Im very impressed with how prolific you are as a writer when you are also a working mum to 5 kids 🙂

    1. That’s so true, financial stability and independence can’t be underrated.
      My blogging has certainly slowed down since the twins arrived!

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