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Friday, 10 November 2017

Coming Back To Work After Maternity Leave - Poland

Dearest sweethearts,

There comes a time in our life when we want more from our self and from life. Our wants and needs can take various forms, from travelling around the world to settling down and having children - or maybe both... well, life is never as easy and plain as one would think. One of my #bucketlist wishes was to get married and have a child by the time I was 30 years old. Of course if you ask me I am not one day more than 18 ;) but I managed to cross out that item from the list last year, when on the 20th of August I gave birth to our sweet Ladybug Baby Girl. Nobody can prepare you for that and as much as you would read motherhood books, attend classes for pregnant women and ask friends and family that already have little ones, you will never know the full truth. I believe nobody would tell you it for fear of discouraging you to have your go at procreating and hoping to make world a better place. Some say that it' harder with your first but it will get better with the next one(s). Well I can't tell if that's wrong or right but I can tell you a first baby is a challenge for everyone. It means readjustment, letting some of things go, compromising and figuring out how to live in 3. Don't get me wrong, it' totally worth it!
I'm here today to tell you how coming back to work again from maternity leaves looks like in Poland. If you are an expat, like myself, not with Polish citizenship but married to a Polish person and expecting a baby... well you are in the right place. As I was saying, I gave birth to my daughter on the 20th of August, last year. Here, in Poland, as regular worker paying NFZ via the corporation you work under, you are entitled to maternity leave. The maximum leave that you can take, as a fresh mother, is one year - the law was modified just last year, raising it from 6 month to 12. As a side note, in Romania, the maximum a mother can have as maternity leave is 2 years! (Which sounds more reasonable, to be honest!). The mother can choose to come back to work again after 6 month and the state will give her extra money (a certain amount) for hiring a nanny (Polish: Niania) or taking the child to day care (Polish: Zlobek). Also, this time of one year can be split between parents - maternal leave 6 months + paternal leave 6 months, for example.
About a month before coming back to work you will be contacted by the HR team responsible for cases after maternity leave.  It's good to stay positive and proactive and contact yourself the TL to make sure your job is stable and that everything is ok, you can also always call HR to find out deadlines of the "coming back" process. You will have to go to the private care clinic that your company has you listed under - they will send you to your home address the paper that you need to take with you. Once you have the paper you need to call in and make a special appointment for "medicina pracy" (work medical checkup). For example, I am under Medicover care and I had to do this via the hotline - the online system does not have this option listed out. It is a regular eye and body check up. At the end you get a paper acnowledging that you can work again. You need to send that back to HR as soon as possible, scanned and in physical form.
Now you might like to consider that you might have the days off from the previous year that need to be taken as fast as lightning, as your HR and TL may tell you. Most corporations don't agree with days off being passed on from one year to another, hence you will be off longer than one year - maybe a year and two month, maybe more... maybe less... depending on your wish and negotiation skills ;) Once back to work, to the corpo-life, as we call it, you'll have to readjust to the working hours. A full time job in Poland is 8,5 hours long - 8 hours of work and half an hour of break time for lunch. As a mother, if you are breastfeeding, you are also entitled by the Polish Labour Law for an additional 2*30 min break during these 8 hours. These breaks can be combined and can be taken as a full hour break at the beginning or end of shift - but this must be agreed upon with your Line Manager. You might have to also write an official statement for that and raise an HR ticket ;) so double check on your intranet page. Also, from corpo to corpo, there are different additional benefits for the fresh mothers: ranging from additional medical benefits for the child, SMYK gift cards (SMYK is a Polish shop for babies and kids), general insurance policies for the little one but also to additional time off (a limited amount of time, of course). The TL is there to guide you and so is HR, don't feel ashamed to ask away any questions. It is your right! Never forget what a brave human being you are - you just gave birth to another life!

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Her Baby Girl