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If You Quit During Leave

You're now on maternity leave, and even though you'd planned to go back to work, you can't imagine leaving your baby's side. Or perhaps you never intended to return to your job once you found out you were pregnant. Either way, before you give notice to your boss, consider the timing of your resignation and how it will affect both you and her.

Quitting before or during the early weeks of your maternity leave seems like a good idea: It'll give your supervisor plenty of time to find a permanent replacement. But don't be surprised if your company revokes all of the benefits that you would have been entitled to during your leave, including your health insurance and any paid leave or disability benefits. Most employers are only obliged to offer you an extension of your health insurance under COBRA, a federally mandated program, at a whopping cost of $400 to $600 a month.

The only way to retain all of your benefits is to hold off on resigning until the very end of your leave. You're still taking a risk -- you'll probably damage your relationship with your boss, who will have to scramble to find a replacement. Is maxing out your benefits worth losing your employer's good faith and future reference? Even if you think your heart is set on being a stay-at-home mom, it may not be smart to close doors unnecessarily.

No matter what the timing, make your exit as smooth as possible, says Eileen Doughty of Family and Home Network, a national organization that helps women who are making the transition from work to home. It's a good idea to wrap up any loose ends, compile a list of your duties, organize your contacts, and offer to help train the person who replaces you or answer her questions by phone.

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