to ask my employer if I can keep my maternity pay

(50 Posts)
arwen110578 Sun 09-Dec-12 23:56:21

despite not being able to return to work for the three months I was meant to in order to keep my enhanced maternity pay which I have already received.

A very long story, but in a nutshell can't return to current job as childcare for 2 DC's under 3 cancels out my salary. I can't do my job in fewer hours. So gave my notice and I am looking for weekend work.

I now can't complete the 3 months notice period due to an unexpected issue arising with the childminder and I have been unable to find a replacement in enough time for the start of my return to work in January. We have no parents or family members who can help.

I have informed my employer about this sudden change of circumstances and they have been very understanding.

I will owe them approx £1800 for my enhanced maternity package but I want to write a letter asking them nicely if they would consider waiving that due to the unexpected circumstances with the childcare.

DH thinks I shouldn't ask them as it's not their problem and that I have essentially drafted a begging letter. I know it is not their problem, but they are good and fair employers who try to help people and my boss knows that we are going to be in a very difficult financial situation for some time until the girls start school and I can look for a full time job in the week. They are also saving money now I am leaving as they have decided to re-structure my position and advertise at a lower pay rate!

I think if you don't ask you don't get and if they say no which they probably will then so be it.

AIBU??!! and a bit of a shameless begger

CoolaYuleA Mon 10-Dec-12 00:03:50

It doesn't hurt to ask.

WorraLorraTurkey Mon 10-Dec-12 00:04:05

I'm sorry but I agree with your DH.

Can you try harder to find another CM?

They may be good and fair employers but that's no reason to take the piss.

jade80 Mon 10-Dec-12 00:04:17

But surely you already knew your childcare fees would cancel out your wage. So why accept the enhanced maternity pay, which depended on you returning for 3 months? It's not really their fault you didn't think it through. But like you say, they are free to say no to you.

Feckthehalls Mon 10-Dec-12 00:04:25


SundaeGirl Mon 10-Dec-12 00:04:35

Try. They might suggest meeting in the middle at x amount or you working it off from home.

squeakytoy Mon 10-Dec-12 00:04:58

yabu unreasonable to expect them to waive it, but I would imagine you can ask them for an achievable repayment plan..

NatashaBee Mon 10-Dec-12 00:07:50

I wouldn't expect anything, but I don't think it would hurt to ask. I would grovel make sure I mentioned how much I'd enjoyed working for them and how grateful you'd be if you could find a compromise.

Casmama Mon 10-Dec-12 00:09:36

You would be totally unreasonable if you expected your almost previous employer to give you £1800 just because you can't sort out proper child are and they feel a bit Rory for you. HOWEVER, you don't seem to expect it, just hope for it so fuck it, I would go for it. Good luck OP.

Jinsei Mon 10-Dec-12 00:10:41

They'd probably think you were taking the piss. TBH, I think it's taking the piss a bit to plan to go back for only three months, but fair enough, you were within your rights to do that. If all women did the same, I suspect that enhanced maternity pay would quickly disappear.

If you can afford to burn your bridges with the employer and definitely won't want to go back, then it can't do any harm to ask. I very much doubt they will say yes, though - they'd be stupid to set a precedent, especially given that your circumstances are less than exceptional.

I can't believe you've the nerve to ask. Why not chuck in a request for additional holiday pay and a really big leaving present too hmm

ThePoppyAndTheIvy Mon 10-Dec-12 00:14:53

Sounds like a pretty standard arrangement to me. My former employers did allow me to keep my enhanced maternity pay when I had to leave the job after just 2 months back in work, rather than 3 although that was because my father had been diagnosed with terminal cancer & my parents were my childcare (DS1 has SN so a regular after school club/CM was not an option).

You could ask but your circumstances don't sound that incredibly unusual TBH. Sorry to sound harsh, but lots of people are let down by their childcare & just have to sort it out somehow. OK, so you may effectively earn next to nothing for 3 months but isn't that preferable to losing £1800?

WhoKnowsWhereTheMistletoes Mon 10-Dec-12 00:16:49

So you never had any intention of going back for more than the three months notice period and now you aren't even going to be able to work that? I think that it would be a bit of a cheek to ask for the money TBH. I cannot see a single reason why they would pay it back and you may gain a reputation as the sort of employee who tries to take their employer for every penny, just not worth it.

Could you defer your return a bit longer till you can find another CM?

arwen110578 Mon 10-Dec-12 00:17:52

Good point Jade..

When we fell pregnant with second DD our toddler was always meant to be cared for by a relative, who had been looking after her when I returned to work first time round.

Unfortunately while I have been on mat leave she has become unexpectedly poorly and although she was possibly going to be better to carry on looking after DD from January, she really isn't 100% and it isn't fair to ask that of her. So the pay was accepted when I genuinly thought I was going back to my original situation.

We also know that a bigger age gap between DD's would have helped, ie, one starts school as I have second but we had difficulties conceiving first DD and fell into the trap of thinking we would have similar problems second time round... blush

Thanks for the replies smile

WorraLorraTurkey Mon 10-Dec-12 00:19:54

Never mind the relative, what about proper childcare?

Icelollycraving Mon 10-Dec-12 00:21:55

Yabu. You must have known that childcare would cancel out your wages before now? You could ask for some time to repay them though & that may open up a conversation if you are v lucky.

arwen110578 Mon 10-Dec-12 00:28:42

Sorry if I didn't include enough info in the original post.

I always meant to go back to my job full time - a relative looked after DD1 but became poorly while I was on mat leave.

I then looked at cost of childcare for the two DDs nd realised it wasn't cost effective for me to return to my job.

I spoke to my employer and am actually very sad to leave my job, and was able to find temporary childcare so that I could honour the 3 month notice period they have as part of thier maternity package.

My temporary childcare to cover my 3 months notice has just let me down in the last week, and I have been unable to find another childminder who can do the pre-school drop-off/collect and days/hours that I need. I am on accrued leave and due to start back 7th Jan.

So not going back to work was never planned, and I am facing unexpected situation with not enough time to rectify it.

But I take all your comments on the chin and won't ask them. I don't want to burn any bridges as they have asked me to get back in touch when my DD1 starts school. I am not trying to take the piss, I just felt that maybe I had mitigating circumstances..

Thanks guys DH is looking very pleased with himself smile

They may be a fair employer but you are no longer their employee are you?

I think that you should write asking them to consider a payment plan, I don't think you should just ask them if you can keep it.

RyleDup Mon 10-Dec-12 00:34:20

Well I would ask. If you don't ask you don't get. They might say yes, they might say no. For what its worth, I didn't go back after my 1 yr mat leave with dc2, as I wanted to stay home for a bit longer with him. I owed work money, either that or go back for 3 months,, but they decided to waive it so I didn't need to give it back.

DeSelby Mon 10-Dec-12 00:35:51

Is there anyone that you could speak to informally, rather than sending a letter?

MammaTJ Mon 10-Dec-12 00:42:21

How about taking some unpaid leave for a while, then returning when you have had time to sort out child care? Would they go for that?

Don't just look at the money paid out in childcare=money earned. You also need to take in to account the extra money you have recieved because you were going to return to work when working out whether it is worthwhile.

Cabrinha Mon 10-Dec-12 00:44:38

If you don't ask you don't get. As long as asking wouldn't burn bridges that you don't need, then why not?

I don't get why you'd TTC too soon (financially) because you were slow to conceive first time though. It's not like TTC takes a set number of months if you have issues! So starting sooner than you can really afford to isn't a good plan! Still, that can hardly be undone - just confused at the logic of it!

Just another thing to throw in... You may only be earning enough to cover your child care, but should you really leave? You said you like the job and they are good employers. Are there good prospects? Even if your salary adds nothing to the net family budget for a couple of years (and remember, your husband's salary is equally responsible for paying childcare) it may still be worth keeping the job.

Women can put themselves in a very vulnerable position, with work prospects, when they give up a good job for temporary child care reasons.

SantaIAmSoFuckingRock Mon 10-Dec-12 00:45:03

if they are fair employers this would leave them in teh position of having to let all staff who decided not to come back after mat leave keep their enhanced MP.

RyleDup Mon 10-Dec-12 00:49:08

Oh, I should have said that I asked for a 2 yr career break in my post. Which is probably why I didn't need to pay it back.

Viviennemary Mon 10-Dec-12 00:53:21

You can ask. But I don't think they would agree because it might set a precedent for other staff in the future who find themselves in the same position. But if they are reasonable employers they should accept an agreement for a plan for repayment.

Why not ask them for a delay in a return to work say till the beginning of February and that would give you time to sort out some childcare.

arwen110578 Mon 10-Dec-12 01:00:55

Yes Cabrinha hold our hands up, no logic involved at all. What was involved was a night that included a large amount of wine. We should know better at our age grin

And that is an interesting point about staying in the job to help with career prospects. I did consider that. However, I have gone as far as I can in the role, both experience-wise and financially. I work in a school and the next step up would be my bosses position and she has been in the role for years and not going anywhere and her job is ridiculously stressful with very long hours

Delaying my return to work was also considered but I wanted to be fair to them. They needed me to come back and do the job as they were desperate so I have tried to let them know of my intentions as soon as possible so they can recruit asap.

I definatley won't ask now, as they have been really suppoprtive already and I really really am not someone who wants to or was intentionally trying to take the piss.

I am looking for weekend work atm...

Oh and yes Santa very fair point too blush

DeSelby Mon 10-Dec-12 01:13:36

Good luck. I resigned while I was on maternity leave & receiving enhanced maternity leave, they didn't ask for it back. Maybe worth an informal chat to see how the land lies?

timeforachangebaby Mon 10-Dec-12 01:19:41

your leave should class as part of the 3 months, so then you need to work less.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 10-Dec-12 07:31:33

They may not ask for it back anyway - I think writing to ask them not to would trigger a definite decision.

Agree with poster above - once you start taking your leave (which is paid), you are "back at work" and therefore need fewer days of actual work. How does the pay for the accrued leave stack up against the £1800 - they may net it off, thereby reducing what you owe back but also meaning you won't get that pay right now, if you were expecting it.

bradyismyfavouritewiseman Mon 10-Dec-12 07:41:07

You can ask.

But to be really honest, this is the reason people don't want to do enhanced mat pay.

people take and don't want to keep up their side of the bargain.

Imflabulous Mon 10-Dec-12 07:49:34

have you not accrued holiday pay while you have been off? this could then put towards the moneys you owe?

KenDoddsDadsDog Mon 10-Dec-12 07:55:04

If this were a thread about any other benefit the replies would be different.

ivanapoo Mon 10-Dec-12 07:57:48

I wouldn't ask not to pay it back but I wouldnt offer it either. They may well waive it anyway.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 10-Dec-12 08:01:56

Ken this isn't a state benefit, it's part of the OP's T&C'S, so it's up to the employer whether to waive repayment.

Skiffen Mon 10-Dec-12 08:06:51

Don't forget you get 15 hours funded when your oldest turns 3 - I've just worked for 6 months for very little after childcare, but dd1 gets funding from January so we'll be in a much better place. It's been hard but I'm glad now that I've kept going and have an established place with flexible employers that will be good as dcs grow.

Itchywoolyjumper Mon 10-Dec-12 08:20:34

OP, you said further up the thread that you couldn't get childcare for the days you had to work. Could you ask to work on the days you have childcare for or ask to do shorter days so you could do the school pick up yourself? Employers are under an obligation to make arrangements so that new mothers aren't excluded from their jobs and it shows a bit of willing on your part, rather than just asking for the repayment to be waived.

KenDoddsDadsDog Mon 10-Dec-12 08:33:14

Still, many employers don't offer enhanced pay for this very reason. People take advantage of it.

I think you'd be very cheeky to ask. Not only will they have to fill your position for January, which is apparently too short an amount of time to find a childminder, but you are asking them to let you have £1800 for their trouble? I would be very embarrassed to request that.

You still have 3 weeks or so to sort some childcare or see if you can change your days and/or do some work from home. I think you need to show extreme willing to help them out before suggesting you get to keep any of the money.

arwen110578 Mon 10-Dec-12 09:15:44

Thanks for more replies people.

Just to clarify I am not going to be asking.

Brady - completly understand but i had always intended to keep up my end of the bargain. Have been let down at the last minute

To those who think I still have enough time to find childcare, in this circumstance I haven't been able too. DD1 is at a pre-school attached to a village school. She is a shy girl and has finally settled there and started to make friends and is really coming out of her shell. I can't pull her out for a few months as she would be unsettled and I would lose her place ready for her funding to kick in in April.
I have contacted all local childminders and none have a space in jan for the days and times we need.
Because we are semi-rural that has restricted the pool of childminders we can ask.
Preschool is only mornings.
I asked about changing my hours to try and do a drop-off and work said no. To be fair to them my job does involve an early start so it wouldn't be ideal to start later.
Also to top it off DH jas started a new job and is on a probationary period so we don't want to ask his work While he is so new. It took him ages to find this job. And he is away for most of this week and most of January :-(

So in our situation yes we do not have enough time to find a suitable arrangement with 4 weeks to go, esp at this time of year!

So I accept I would have been cheeky to ask and I am grateful for your advice x

fromparistoberlin Mon 10-Dec-12 09:45:25

why on earth would they give you free money?

they have lost a staff member and will have to pay recruitment costs

yabvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvu I am afraid

with little commercial understanding

Floggingmolly Mon 10-Dec-12 09:46:27

I don't think they can legally do this, can they? If you haven't returned to work for the required length of time, then your leaving date would have been the date you first went on leave, and you haven't officially been on maternity leave at all.

bradyismyfavouritewiseman Mon 10-Dec-12 10:17:55

Brady - completly understand but i had always intended to keep up my end of the bargain. Have been let down at the last minute

I don't mean to sound awful, but most say that. Not many are brazen enough to say 'i never intended to come back'

My point is that alot of people complain about met benefits and this is one of the problems. Employees can spoil it for others.

iamapushymum Mon 10-Dec-12 10:22:48

YANBU and remember at the end of the day possession is 9/10 of the law.
It will cost them a lot more to take you to court to try and get the money back if you refuse to pay.

WhoKnowsWhereTheMistletoes Mon 10-Dec-12 10:23:20

I'm glad you have decided not to ask Arwen. I agree about the spoiling it for others, only requiring you to work for 3 months is pretty generous anyway, many places stipulate a year or even two, it really is meant to encourage you to come back and stay not to just tie you in for long enough for them to replace you. If you asked, it would put your employer in an awkward situation as other women might start doing the same thing, then they would probably have to look at changing their policy and the terms would become less generous for everyone.

CajaDeLaMemoria Mon 10-Dec-12 10:29:55

You could ask for a meeting with your manager and explain the situation? Not with a view to getting to keep the pay, but to see if there is anything that your employer can do once they realise that you'll be leaving otherwise.

You might find they can offer better hours, or home working, or extended leave, or they may let you keep the pay under the circumstances. They may offer nothing but if they are a good, fair employer hopefully they will try to help.

FivesGoldNorks Mon 10-Dec-12 10:35:06

Pushymum do you think its morally right?

WeWilsonAMerryChristmas Mon 10-Dec-12 10:44:39

Pushy if the OP works at a school with a high number of women of child-bearing age they may well suck up that cost in order to not set a precedent.

WhoKnowsWhereTheMistletoes Mon 10-Dec-12 10:52:04

Wouldn't cost much in the small claims court. If I was an employer and this happened I would like to think it wouldn't put me off employing women of child bearing age, but you can see how it would happen.

I agree with having a meeting with them and discussing the ins and outs of your leaving, they may bring it up, they may not.

GreatUncleEddie Mon 10-Dec-12 10:52:13

I can see things are really tough but I think you need to do everything you can to keep yur job, because it is in a school and you will never find such good hour in any other job. Even I'd you make no money for a while, keep this job for the long term if at all possible.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 10-Dec-12 11:12:08

Caja, good idea.

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