Home – New Forums Other discussions How do you take maternity leave and keep your clients? Reply To: How do you take maternity leave and keep your clients?

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Amy – Strategy Designer
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I’ll add more context to my original post as I’m raising a couple of big challenges here that are important in the context of building a sustainable business as a freelancer. Hopefully others from the community can input on this from their personal experiences.

Can freelancers keep top of mind whilst on maternity leave?

I’ve been freelancing for 6 years and have had my two children during that time. For my first child I took 9 months and in that situation I had to say goodbye to my full time client at the time because it just wasn’t feasible to ask them (a global pharma that was constantly being restructured) to wait for me. This time around I opted to take 6 months for various reasons but one was to try to get back to this current client as quickly as possible. As a remote consultant I need to keep in regular contact and visit clients semi regularly to stay on the radar. As mentioned before I tried to keep in touch during my maternity leave and offered to look at any new projects while away but it hasn’t worked. Was there more, or something else, I could have done to keep top of mind? What have others done differently in this situation?

Let’s keep in mind that there is only so much you can do work-wise when you have a newborn. At least in my case anyway and I didn’t even have a particularly difficult or demanding baby. Perhaps some form of automation could be set up to keep in touch with the client?

As an aside, my husband has taken paternity leave both times I’ve returned to work so it’s even more important that I bring the money in.

How far would you push your contractual agreement?

I don’t want to risk the relationship with my client but at the same time I don’t want to appear to be a pushover. I’ve been charging a reduced day rate based on a minimum of two days a week. Now I could go back to them and regretfully increase the day rate back to the usual level I charge or adhoc work. How far would others go? How would you word it? Would you even bother with the contract considering it doesn’t really mean much? I say this because unless there is a really serious problem / high value at stake, what freelancer is going to throw the book at a client and go further to court? Who can afford that financially and reputationally?

These issues will, for me remain in sharp focus beyond the present because I feel very passionately that there should be some benchmark established to combat this happening for others in the future (and will at least be a huge consideration for any woman considering having a child and any man wishing to take paternity leave). It can be such a disruption to business development and client relations if you are a one person set up and want (can afford) to spend a good chunk of time on parental leave with your baby. I also want to say this isn’t an issue with the client. I can completely understand the situation from their perspective and their decision to reduce hours has nothing to do with me being on maternity leave per se. My point here is how can we develop safeguards and processes and strengthen our relationships with clients so that maternity leave is the wonderful opportunity it should be rather than something to partly fear / dread / put off.