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I've been a mid-level software developer at a large company for about 1.5 years. My performance reviews are very good and my manager is happy with my work.

I'm planning to take maternity leave in another 2 months for the birth of my first child. My manager & I have agreed on my leave plan and there are no issues on that front either.

However, I'm interested in switching to a remote role after the baby is born. My current commute is quite long, and it will be too difficult for me (because of the baby) if I get home so late. My husband & I have already decided that we'll either need to move closer to the office (very worst case scenario for us, for personal reasons), or switch to a remote job. My manager is aware that I want remote, but due to department policies he is unable to accomodate me for that request.

As an alternative solution, I'm considering applying for internal transfer to move to a remote role within a different department (where remote is allowed). My question is as follows:

Is it problematic to switch teams right before or after maternity leave? Doing so before my leave wouldn't make sense, because I wouldn't have enough time to ramp up before leaving.

  • EDIT: Why doesn't this make sense? Depending on how fast the interview & approval process takes, I'd have between 1 week and 6 weeks to actually get familiar with my new team, and then I'd be gone for a few months. That would likely mean re-ramping up again when I get back since I'm not likely to remember the details of my ramp-up after such a long break.

On the other hand, coming back from maternity leave straight into a new team seems like a bad idea, too. It's hard enough getting used to a new family dynamic & new responsibilities, and a new team at work can just add extra stress.

Is this as tricky as it sounds? What are some pitfalls to be aware of?

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  • "Doing so before my leave wouldn't make sense, because I wouldn't have enough time to ramp up before leaving" What does this mean?
    – sf02
    Nov 16 '21 at 19:55
  • How long is your maternity leave? Is there a chance your teams policy changes in the meantime?
    – nvoigt
    Nov 16 '21 at 20:09
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    @sf02 ...presumably that they would leave for maternity leave before they got completely up to speed in the new team ? Nov 16 '21 at 20:11
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    I removed 2nd question & clarified first question to provide more details. Maternity leave is approx 10 weeks & it's not likely that the policy will change during that time.
    – c36
    Nov 16 '21 at 20:12
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Is it problematic to switch teams right before or after maternity leave?

The only way you can get a meaningful answer is to ask within your company. Nobody here can decide what is problematic for them.

If I managed the different department, I wouldn't want you to join for 1 week and then leave for 10.

As a hiring manager, I have seen that many, many folks on maternity leave often never come back - particularly if it's the birth of a first child. It's a normal part of business and is never a surprise. If it's an important role, they must find a way to replace you temporarily during your leave, and then if you eventually don't come back they must find a way to replace you permanently.

So if you asked me, I'd say "See me when you come back from your maternity leave and we can talk." And of course I'd only say that if I really wanted you to join my team.

Joining the different team right after your maternity leave would be almost exactly the same as a new hire. If the new team happens to have an opening, it would likely work out just fine. If not, transfer might not be possible.

The only way you'll know if this is problematic in your company or not, is to ask them.

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Doing so before my leave wouldn't make sense, because I wouldn't have enough time to ramp up before leaving...On the other hand...It's hard enough getting used to a new family dynamic & new responsibilities, and a new team at work can just add extra stress.

It sounds like getting used to being on the new team will be an issue whether you begin the new role before or after your leave. Since new changes are a source of stress, I would argue in favor of eliminating as many unknowns as possible:

  • Not knowing whether you'll finish the interview process before your leave.
  • Not knowing whether your transfer will be approved.
  • Not knowing whether there will be a delay between the approval and the actual transfer (and how long it will be).
  • Not knowing how many miscellaneous tasks related to the transfer and going 100% remote will require being in the office.1

I'm guessing that you don't want to have to come into the office after your child is born if you can avoid it. The best way to be certain you won't have to is to have already started the remote position, if possible.

Whether your employer, manager, and potential manager will let you do this is another matter. (IANAL and don't know if Title VII applies to the timing of an internal transfer.)

1If your office is good at having remote employees, this might not be an issue, but if there's HR/security/whatever tasks that you have to take care of that you can't do remotely for whatever reason then it will be easier to do them before you give birth.

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