By Veronica Dagher
Oct. 11, 2020
The pandemic is forcing some working mothers to consider quitting their jobs as the burden of childcare duties still falls largely on women.
Some have already dropped out of the paid workforce to help their children with remote learning while many schools remain closed. But many others can’t afford to quit. Those weighing their options should consider the short- and long-term financial impacts of putting their careers on hold.
Here are some big issues to scrutinize if you are navigating this tricky choice:
What do I need to consider financially in the short term if I quit?
If you’re in a relationship, losing your income means you’ll likely become completely dependent on your partner’s income, says Rebecca Rooney, a financial adviser at UBS, a large Swiss-based bank.
If a couple has had separate bank accounts, the nonworking spouse should make sure that she now has a joint account with her partner so she stays involved with the family finances and can access their money, says Ms. Rooney in New York.
Keep some bills in your name to maintain your credit score.
If you have outstanding debt, such as student loans, figure out how that debt will be paid down.
Reduced earnings could mean a lower tax bracket for the family. The couple should speak with their accountant to check on any possible tax breaks, says Karen Altfest, a financial planner in New York.
How might resigning impact my overall financial picture three to five years from now?
Giving up work may put you at a disadvantage for promotions if you return to the workforce, says Avani Ramnani, a financial planner in New York. And leaving amid the pandemic may impact your earning potential down the road, she says.
If you do re-enter the workforce, it may not be in the role or with the salary you desire. A study by researchers at Texas A&M University found that women who resume working after an interruption often face a downward career trajectory. They may earn lower hourly wages compared with their co-workers as a result of career interruption, and they may be expected to choose lower-level positions, the study found.
“Be careful about making long-term decisions based on a short-term issue,” Ms. Ramnani says.
Will quitting affect my ability to get rehired?
Marianne Ruggiero, a career coach in New York City, suspects employers will be sympathetic when they consider a candidate’s pandemic-related career break. The good news is that they won’t make the assumption that you were forced out or had some professional issue, she says.
That doesn’t mean, however, that they will be “lenient,” and if other candidates have more recent relevant qualifications, you may find you’re somewhat less competitive, Ms. Ruggiero says.
To explain your pandemic break and increase your chances of getting rehired, have a tight, well-thought-out statement about why you took the break and why you want to return. This kind of statement usually resonates best when you tell the truth, she says.
“Show that you made a thoughtful, nonemotional decision, and that your return to the workforce has equal commitment,” she says.
Maintaining and developing your network, staying abreast of news and changes in the market, keeping your skills honed, and potentially developing new ones may also boost your chances of getting rehired, Ms. Ruggiero says.
What should I think about when it comes to insurance?
Consider what other benefits you may be losing, such as life and disability insurance, and seek to close any coverage gaps.
Make sure the nonworking spouse has health insurance. It may be possible and more affordable to be covered by the working spouse’s plan. But this will probably result in lower take-home pay for the working spouse, Ms. Rooney says.
What should I consider in the long term?
Understand that by resigning, you’re forfeiting your salary along with any of your employer’s future retirement contributions such as a plan match, says Ms. Rooney.
The amount of money you’re paid in government benefits when you retire could also be reduced, because those checks are based on your lifetime earnings.
Be sure to ask your spouse if he or she will contribute to your retirement account going forward to help grow your retirement nest egg, she says. You may need to rethink the age at which you wish to retire as well.
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