How to ensure a smooth handover to and from your cover

Returning to work

11 Adopt a positive mindset about your break

You've had several months out and that may have given you a fresh perspective on anything from clients' challenges, internal processes, people dynamics or the industry as a whole. Your ideas could be revolutionary in terms of what and how your team operates so remember your value and be confident to speak up when you see different ways of doing things.

12 Phased returns

Coming back to the hours you were working before pregnancy can feel daunting. Gradually ramping up the number of days/hours you work by using accrued holiday could be good for you and your team depending on what's happing in the business. Imagine a client has a major event before you're due back and your team is keen to have you involved, – you could suggest an earlier start back date in exchange for a phased return (eg two days/week).

13 Have a reverse handover

Just as you acclimatised your covering colleague(s) to the role(s) they were taking on whilst you were away, doing the same for you is good practice. A few days' handover time with your maternity cover can make all the difference to how confident you feel, so do spell out the benefits to your line manager if she or he hasn't arranged it.

"I produced a booklet with a handover note for my colleagues on every case. It was updated by them as they worked into cases so it was easier to read into cases on my return, although some cases had in fact not moved!"

Solicitor, in-house public sector

Kate Gillies
"I facilitated introductions with clients where necessary/appropriate so that they knew who to contact and so that there was some consistency in client care. On return to work, I found colleagues were very happy to discuss matters with me to get me up to speed. I was also allowed ‘reading in time’ on matters before becoming fully immersed in them."

Kate Gillies, solicitor, Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP

"Returning to work, both you and your employer need to appreciate that the handover on return will not be immediate as, depending on the length of your leave, you may take a short time to find your feet again. Stick with it and everything will fall back into place."

Lindsay Anderson, solicitor, Stewart & Watson

Over To You

  1. What three actions would most help you have a smooth return?
  2. How can you set your line manager up to successfully support you?
  3. What will you do next?

Further Resources