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JustHere | November 15, 2017

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Back to Work After Maternity Leave? What working mothers in Qatar should know

Returning to your job after having a baby can be a major upheaval for you and your little one. Elsbeth Blekkenhorst advises on how best to get back into groove.

There are new schedules to adjust to, caregivers to get to know, and complex emotions to face as you’ll suddenly be apart for lengthy stretches during the day. It’s enough to stress out any new mom.
In Qatar women only have 50 days maternity leave, so just as you’re getting used to being home with your baby and your work life feels like a distant memory, you realise that your maternity leave is coming to an end. The thought of waking up at 5 a.m. and racing off to a job after being up all night with a crying baby seems impossible. No matter how long and hard you’ve thought about your decision to return to work, and how sure you are that it’s the right choice, you need to be prepared for mixed emotions. You might feel guilty about leaving your baby in someone else’s care – or you might feel guilty about being eager to go back to your old life.
There are a couple of things to take care of before you go back to work. Such as who will be taking care of your baby when you are at work? There are many nurseries in Doha and this number is still growing but… the waiting lists are also still growing as many new families move to Doha each month. If you are planning to take your baby to nursery make sure you sign up with one or more on time.

Talk to your employer

Before you return to work, or even before you go on maternity leave look into your working hours. What are the possibilities? Working hours are quite rigid in Qatar but certainly some managers are willing to discuss options, such as an earlier start or a shorter lunch break so can you can leave the office earlier to pick up your child. Dare to speak out.  When you go into a new job there is also the opportunity to discuss this. You can also do this through your recruiter if you feel more comfortable with this. During the first few weeks, you’ll be figuring out how to juggle your job and your new-mom responsibilities. Being organised is essential for keeping all those balls in the air.

Career? What career?

But what happens when you are back at work, in terms of your career? A UK study, the National Childbirth Trust found that one in three women return to work after maternity leave to find their job ‘unrecognisable’ to the one they left, whilst other figures from a survey Mumsnet found that 84% of mums feel that having children has made it harder to progress in their career, 76% feel less employable since having a child, and 85% believe that UK employers are ‘poor’ when it comes to being family friendly.
This pretty much reflects the Qatar market. As the Qatar labour market is still male dominated how are the circumstances at work? Qatar labour law says that the working woman shall be granted daily one (1) hour for lactation of her child over one year w. e .f. the end of the maternity leave. How is that organised?

Fear of flexibility

The long working hours, demanding managers and a not so family friendly working environment make it very hard for many women to go back to work. Flexibility is most often the biggest key issue amongst parents. To make coming back to work after maternity leave much easier is for employers to offer flexibility to the entire workforce, for both female and male employees. It’s a popular misconception that flexibility is bad for business. In fact, evidence suggests that offering part time work and flexible hours increases productivity and helps with staff retention. Qatar’s National Development Strategy 2011–2016 is working towards this goal by making flex time, part time, special leave, and nurseries at the workplace part of Qatar’s vision.

The mompreneur?

Rather than going back to an employer an increasing number of women in Qatar are using their baby break to kickstart a new business. This will give them the flexibility what they are looking for and environment to raise their family but also still be able to further their careers and to be successful in the Qatar market.
There are many tools for these women, both Qatari and expatriate women to become proper entrepreneurs. Such as the Bedaya where they identify, develop and support young entrepreneurs succeed in the business environment of 2030 and Roudha Center which is a one-stop shop for women entrepreneurs. They provide innovative and effective programs and advocacy efforts for women looking to open their own business or grow their existing ones.
The Qatar market is not an easy one but offers many exciting opportunities. Make sure you know about your rights, when on maternity leave and for when you return to work. Research the many opportunities in Qatar and make sure you find the right one for you. Don’t give up, and stay true to yourself. In the end of the day your family is what matters mostly.

The author is co-founder and managing director of Global Women Qatar, which was established in January 2012 as Qatar’s first employment agency to focus exclusively on the recruitment of women who already reside in Qatar.
For more information please contact Elsbeth Blekkenhorst or Danielle Duttenhofer at  and visit for the latest vacancies.

Photo Courtesy: Flickr, kenjipunzalan {}


  1. Arlene D. Zafra

    What is the rule if the employee came earlier than the 50 days paid maternity leave, will she be paid on the date of her leave returning to work? is there such thing as double compensation is it allowed by law?

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