Should You Tell Your New Clients that You’re Taking Maternity Leave?
Maternity leave can be a touchy subject in traditional outside-of-the-home jobs, but when it comes to from-home or telecommuting work, it can be even touchier, and here’s why: if, right off the bat, you tell your new clients that you’re taking maternity leave, they may wonder if doing business with you is a good idea. But on the other hand, if you don’t tell your new clients that maternity leave is in the cards for you (and thus them), and they find out elsewhere (your blog, a vague mention on Twitter, a reference on Facebook, etc.), they’re going to feel like they’ve been deceived.
Whether you’re working outside of the home, from home, or on the road, it’s your obligation to both yourself and your clients that you inform them of any upcoming leaves of absence. But you don’t have to do so right away. Forbes has a great article, Pregnancy and the Office, that advises on waiting as long as possible to inform about maternity leave. This is sensible: if you're seven weeks pregnant, clearly you have a lot of time between now and when you'll be taking off to prepare for having your baby. There's no reason to jump the gun and give your new clients second thoughts.
But if you're further along, or your pregnancy is already public knowledge, then it makes sense to tell your new clients that yes, you will be taking maternity leave. Not saying anything at all is essential to everyone ignoring the elephant in the room. Only in this case, the elephant is your expanding belly and your talk of pregnancy. Don't leave informed clients in the dark, because you risk their trust, and thus your reputation.
When you do inform new clients of impending maternity leave, be sure to give them estimated dates of when your maternity leave will start and end, and assure them that your commitment to them in the meantime, and after you return from maternity leave, is still 100 percent. If you have someone who can sub in for you during maternity leave, let new clients know this, too - but don’t bring that sub in just yet. Wait until closer to your maternity leave before introducing your clients to your stand-in. This way you both have had plenty of time to establish an open, trusting working relationship with each other.
Congrats on the baby, and when he or she arrives, be sure to check out our essential tools for the breastfeeding WAHM, as well as survival tips for working at home with a new baby!
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