Not returning to work after maternity leave - help!

(27 Posts)
Monkeysandpenguins Wed 27-Jan-16 17:40:13

NC as it might identify me.

I'm currently debating whether or not to return to work after ML, as the cost of childcare is more than my wages (amoungst other reasons).

My SMP ends on 28th Feb, so if I was going back I'd need to start on 1st March (so need to get a letter to them by the end of the week to let them know).

If I don't return, I would be claiming (or attempting to claim) working tax credits etc etc as dh works. I would be wanting to try and claim them from 1st March as I'd have no income coming in from that date.

Would I be able to delay handing in my notice until 30th April so my official leave date is 30th May (so it looks better on my CV), or would I need to have officially left my job by 1st March to be able to claim benefits; ie would HMRC need to see my P60, for example?

Also, I was given additional maternity pay. I understand I would need to pay that back. I don't have the money to give them currently, so if I handed in my notice on 31st Jan, would they take my 28th February payment, made up of SMP, in order to pay back the OMP?

TIA

MyWey Wed 27-Jan-16 22:25:49

You wouldn't be able to claim anything from the government if you didn't resign until April as you would still be considered on mat leave.

However, are you 100% sure you have to pay back your enhanced mat pay if you don't return? Check your company's maternity policy. I get enhanced mat pay but there is no condition in our policy that I have to repay anything if I resign whilst on mat leave - HR have confirmed this.

Fifi10 Thu 28-Jan-16 08:17:42

In teaching (aware you might not be a teacher OP) there is a block if 13 weeks half pay which burgundy book says you have to pay back if you don't return to work for 13 full time weeks afterwards. I've been trying to look into this myself but not getting very far.

If you are a union member (not just for teachers) I would contact them for advice?

Monkeysandpenguins Thu 28-Jan-16 09:13:40

Yes, I'm 100% sure I have to pay it back. No idea how I'll do that, but after hours or crunching the numbers last night, I just can't afford to go back as I can't afford childcare.

So I need to hand my notice in asap in order to be able to claim benefits in Marc then?

MyWey Thu 28-Jan-16 11:31:31

How much leave are you due? Could you hand your notice in and get paid a lump sum for leave not taken that you could use to help pay back the enhanced mat pay? Alternatively, how long do you need to go back for before you pay it back? Could you use leave to only work p/t for that period and then hand your notice in? You would be reducing the cost of childcare whilst still earning your full salary and negating the need to pay mat pay back.

MyWey Thu 28-Jan-16 11:32:15

*before you no longer have to pay it back

sleepyhead Thu 28-Jan-16 11:38:45

What benefits are you planning to claim? Whether you're on maternity leave or not shouldn't come into the equation as Tax Credits are based on your family income. Be aware that the income thresholds for Tax Credits are a lot lower than many people realise, especially if you have one child.

Obviously you can't claim JSA if you're on Mat Leave as you aren't available for work, but if you're not intending to look for another job you won't be entitled to JSA in any case.

As far as paying back your OMP, I think there are restrictions on what deductions your employer can make from SMP so no, I don't think they could deduct your OMP from your February payment. Your Employee Handbook should detail how you will be expected to pay back the OMP, and as pp has said, you will have accrued Annual Leave that may be able to offset it.

Aftershock15 Thu 28-Jan-16 12:03:42

I think you need to work out how much it will cost you to repay the enhanced maternity pay and how long you need to go back for to be able to keep it (3-6 months probably). Then work out how much money you will be paying out for childcare above your salary for that time and see if it's less. If you have to pay it back and are going to need benefits to survive on just one salary I'm not sure how you would ever be able to save and pay it back otherwise.

Monkeysandpenguins Thu 28-Jan-16 15:32:42

I don't accrue leave whilst on ML as I work in a school so it's term time only work. So if I returned it would need to be full time for 3 months - and I can't afford the childcare for that time, even for the 3 months. In addition, I would need to go back in 4 weeks if I'm going back, and I'm just not well enough to cope with it (mentally and physically). I know I'm pretty much screwed as will owe around £1k I think so I'm wondering if they'll send it to a debt collectors for me to do a repayment plan or something?

Online calculators and CAB say I am maybe entitled to a few things - think they were working tax credits, child tax credits (I think that was the name) and housing benefit (as well as the standard child benefit).

So my original question of delaying handing in my notice until April....basically I need to do it in the next few days, so that I'm no longer employed when my SMP runs out, so that I can claim benefits. Is this correct?

MyWey Thu 28-Jan-16 16:10:12

Ah ok I see. If you are just talking about WTC and CTC then you could be due these whilst still on mat leave depending on your household income and estimated annual income. It's worth looking into further definitely as you might not need to resign just yet. My baby is nearly 6 months and I won't go back until September so can totally understand not being ready yet!

LastOneDancing Thu 28-Jan-16 16:15:08

If you're definately leaving, can't you call your HR (or teaching alternarive) and just ask what the score is for giving notice/paying back the enhanced mat pay? It won't be the first or the last time it's happened.
Or as PP said, ask your union?

Sorry you're not feeling well flowers

lovebeyondwords Thu 28-Jan-16 16:15:10

If ur not well enough to go back could u not 'go back' but go sick instead of actually returning? Not something I'd like to do but at the end of the day, the fact u'r back on the books means u'r technically back so ur three months notice will be met and u have nothing to pay back?
Can't believe I just wrote that, feels like a very bad work ethic hmm

Monkeysandpenguins Thu 28-Jan-16 16:15:13

How can I look into it further? I'm online to CAB but they're not answering my question about when I need to hand in my notice. I just need to know: I want to claim benefits from March. Do I need to hand in my notice now or can it wait until the end of April so I can officially leave when my full 1 year mat ends. It's sooo confusing!

My baby is nearly 6 months too so I'm so not ready to leave her in 4 weeks!

LIZS Thu 28-Jan-16 16:20:23

You only need to give notice that you won't return , as per your contract, so work backwards from when your 12 months ml is up. By the sounds of it that is end of April, so you'd give notice end of March unless your contract demands more than a month. But you will be limited as to your benefit entitlement in the meantime. Bear in mind tax credits look at last year's info in the first instance and if your oh is earning that is taken into account.

Conundrumparpapumpum Thu 28-Jan-16 16:23:57

As long as you are entitled income wise, you can claim working and child tax credit whether employed or not. Indeed you will only qualify fit working tax credit if you remain employed, and then only if you work (contracted to work - it does not make a difference that you are on mat leave) a certain number of hours. So no, you do not need to resign to claim those benefits. You will still need to give your employer 8wks notice if you wish to change your return to work date (so that you can resign later).
Google tax credit calculator and fill that in as best you can - it is not definitive but should give you a fairly accurate view of what you are entitled to in your current position, tax credit wise.

Conundrumparpapumpum Thu 28-Jan-16 16:26:04

Ime if you phone tax credits and explain your current circs they can be flexible about giving you what you need based on your current situation rather than the previous year. But you will have to fill in an application and they will take time to process it, so I would not delay with that - fill it is asap.

Conundrumparpapumpum Thu 28-Jan-16 16:28:23

https://www.gov.uk/tax-credits-calculator

Monkeysandpenguins Thu 28-Jan-16 16:32:38

CAB have finally understood my question and have said this:

"If you decide not to return to work, it doesn't matter when you resign. After the 28th February, you will not classified as in 'remunerative work' (work you are paid for), so you can claim the benefits we have mentioned."

So I think I can just have my last SMP payment on 28th Feb.
Then put in a claim for benefits from 1st March (regardless of me still being classed as employed, but I'd have no income coming in)

Then once the new budget comes out in April I can see then if I'm better off working or not (as it stands I'm £350 a month better off not working) and see how I feel health wise. If I do want to do back then I can just let them know (as need to give a months notice) at the end of April to start back the end of May, or let them know that I won't be returning.

MyWey Thu 28-Jan-16 16:33:18

PPs are both correct. However, I don't think you need to give 8 weeks notice unless you intend to return sooner than the full 12 months. So handing in your notice end April to finish end May should be fine if your notice period is one month.

I also think that although WTC looks at previous year's income, you can contact them once the decision comes through to give your estimated current year income if it is significantly lower than previously.

Not sure about housing benefit I'm afraid.

Congratulations on your baby btw. I can't believe how quickly 6 months has passed here.

Monkeysandpenguins Thu 28-Jan-16 16:36:40

Just seen all the replies once my browser has refreshed.

Thanks for all the advice everyone. I'll redo the calculator in a bit (as DD is needing a feed atm) and post what benefits it says I might be entitled to and see if they are ones you think I'd need to resign or not for.

Just been discussing with DH about how we'd pay back the £1k to work. He says maybe they'll do a repayment plan or something, and dm has said she'll try and help out where she can too, so hopefully we can sort something out. DM has looked into dropping a day or 2 at work to help with childcare, but she wouldn't be able to have the same days off each week so that wouldn't work unfortunately (and it would be such a big pay cut it wouldn't be worth while).

Thanks again everyone flowers

Monkeysandpenguins Thu 28-Jan-16 16:38:08

Mywey I can't believe it either. I keep looking at her and wondering where on earth my newborn baby has gone! Congratulations on your baby too flowers . Good luck when you go back in September!

MrsPnut Thu 28-Jan-16 16:45:29

When you work out your income for tax credits, you disregard the first £100 a week of SMP or MA which may mean you are entitled to tax credits before you give up your job.

Monkeysandpenguins Thu 28-Jan-16 18:08:44

I'm confused by that sorry MrsPnut. Sorry to be so confused, I just think my sleep deprived brain is struggling to process it all. I might be totally outing myself here (but at least I've ncd!) and I know it's not my original question but any advice is welcome!

Basically, what I've done is gone on to entitledto and I've entered the details as if I'm doing it from the next financial year ie. from 2016-2017.

So for the income between 2014-2015, I've put my income from 2015-2016 in, instead, iyswim? That was a mixture of wages/sickpay/mat leave so per month pre tax it's been this:

April 2015 - £790
May 2015 - £500
June 2015 - £764.95 (SMP & OMP)
July 2015 - £830 (SMP & OMP)
August 2015 - £849.94 (SMP & OMP)
September 2015 - £931.58 (SMP & OMP)
October 2015 - £873.52 (SMP & OMP)
Novemeber 2015 - £851.52 (SMP & OMP)
December 2015 - £620 (SMP)
January 2015 - £620 (SMP approx)
February 2015 - £580 (SMP approx)
March 2015 - £0 (SMP run out)

So that's £8211.51 in total for the year 2015 - 2016. So I put that in and dh's income as £12,600. Then when it asks if the next year if there will be a difference of £2,500 or more for 2015-2016, so I've answered this as if it's 2016-2017, and kept my dh's the same and mine as £0.

So it's come back with this:

Tax Credits £3,391.91
Housing Benefit £3,432.14
Child Benefit £1,076.40

So £7,900 a year so about £658 per month.

It does say the tax credits is only from august (when baby was born) until April - so I'm guessing this figure could be more or less come April when it'll take it all into account for a full year.

So:

1.) I know it's just an estimate, but do you think I've put in the right information to get this estimate? As I'm now confused about the - £100 of SMP thing.

2.) Would I need to hand in my notice ready for when SMP ends for the tax credit and housing benefit benefits?

3.) From readings your posts, am I right in understanding that I probably won't be able to claim anything for March as they look at the previous financial year, not at how my finances are suddenly changing that one month? So in April when they look at the year as a whole from 2015-2016, I can say my income will be less than the £2,500 threshold they have, and let them know it will be £0 and then they can look into that accordingly? Have I understood that right?

Conundrumparpapumpum Thu 28-Jan-16 20:59:11

The trouble is all these things can only give you estimates. It seems like you have some time before you need to decide whether to give up your job, so if it were me, I would fill in and send off a tax credit form. I would be surprised, given the income you've quoted, if you don't qualify even based on your last years income. Once you have an open claim with them you can call them and explain your current situation.
I can't advise about any other benefits, but I think that lots of them take their info from tax credits.
If CAB say you qualify or will qualify for housing benefit I would also fill in that form without delay.
If you have any trouble actually filling in either form then try to get an appt with your local CAB so that they can help you. But I know that benefits can only be backdated to the point you fill in the form, so don't wait. Also they may take several weeks to actually process it.
Good luck smile

Conundrumparpapumpum Thu 28-Jan-16 21:08:51

What mrspnut means is that when tax credits look at your income, they ignore part of your SMP, so if you receive £130 per week in SMP, they ignore the first £100, and treat you as if you are only earning £30 per week.
Fill in the form, give them the info, they'll work it out for you - it's easier than second guessing them.

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