Going back on maternity leave - is it possible?

(28 Posts)
AWaspOnAWindowInAHeatwave Thu 14-Jul-16 20:05:08

I took 12 weeks' maternity leave and went back to work at the beginning of June. I would have loved to take a longer period of leave but I was left under no illusion by my employer that they wouldn't be happy about it (tbf they weren't very happy to hear I'd be taking maternity leave at all). So I agreed to 2 weeks' annual leave from wk38 of my pregnancy, commenced my maternity leave at wk40, and DD arrived at 40+4. I also have a 22mo DS. I used up all my KIT days in one block at the end of my leave, which in effect meant I returned to work when DD was 11wo - two weeks before my official return to work date. DC are in nursery for 10 hours a day, my house is a tip, I feel guilty every minute I'm away from them, I feel guilty in the evening as DD wants to constantly feed so my time spent with DS is limited. Evenings consist of home, feed DD, bath DS, story, put DS to bed, washing and drying, feed DD, shower, feed DD, sort out work bags/nursery bags/tomorrow's clothes/packed lunches, feed DD, eat dinner, wash up/unload steriliser, tidy and do floors, feed DD. I go to bed at 11.30 without any wind-down time and am up again at 6 to get everyone out the door for 7.30. I thought it would get easier as time went on, but I've been back 6 weeks and if anything it's getting harder due to the cumulative effect of late nights, early starts, and general stress and guilt. Does anybody know whether it's possible to go back on maternity leave, and what I need to do? Or have I simply made my bed so need to lie in it?

AWaspOnAWindowInAHeatwave Thu 14-Jul-16 21:31:48

Anyone? Please?

Liska Thu 14-Jul-16 21:37:26

I don't know the answer but I'm bumping. Tbh your employer sounds like they're behaving in a borderline illegal way. Hopefully someone more qualified will come along.

Unthoughtknown Thu 14-Jul-16 21:42:01

No you can't restart maternity leave. Using kit days in a block of ten isn't really right either...that's not what they are for.

Re them not being happy about maternity leave...what exactly was said? You could potentially have a claim against them if you were forced back to work

Unthoughtknown Thu 14-Jul-16 21:44:45

Maternity action are really helpful if you have been treated poorly.

Could you afford to take unpaid leave?

AWaspOnAWindowInAHeatwave Thu 14-Jul-16 21:44:50

Thanks Liska. It was all legal and above board - they just made it clear that my maternity leave would have a huge impact on the business (senior role in quite a small company so I do understand where they're coming from) and I felt guilt-tripped into cutting my leave down to the minimum. When I was previously off with DS I offered to take 8weeks' mat leave and they were far happier about that.

QuackDuckQuack Thu 14-Jul-16 21:46:18

I'm not sure if you would consider using unpaid parental leave instead. www.gov.uk/parental-leave/entitlement. That could give you 8 weeks off.

AWaspOnAWindowInAHeatwave Thu 14-Jul-16 21:47:43

Thanks Unthought. Sadly I can't afford to take unpaid leave or I would have resigned by now and it's awkward to take any annual leave anytime soon, as other people have had to wait till I returned to work in order to use their annual leave... I know I can't cope for much longer unless something gives though.

Unthoughtknown Thu 14-Jul-16 21:47:48

I think you should be open with them about how things are for you at the moment. Would they consider any flexible working for you ?

Unthoughtknown Thu 14-Jul-16 21:48:24

X post sorry!

EightNine Thu 14-Jul-16 21:49:29

It wasn't legal and above board if you were coerced back from mat leave. Inconvenience for them is not your issue.

AWaspOnAWindowInAHeatwave Thu 14-Jul-16 21:50:10

Thanks Quack. Sadly unpaid isn't an option but I wasn't aware that 18 weeks' parental leave was a thing - I will keep it in mind for future reference.

ForTheLoveOfSocks Thu 14-Jul-16 21:51:48

If you went off sick, then you would automatically trigger SMP rather than SSP. This is because you are still within the 39 week period. It's not very well known but I work in Payroll and have come across it before

icklekid Thu 14-Jul-16 21:52:43

Didn't want to read and run but not sure I can help. I don't think it is possible to go back on mat leave I'm afraid- do you have an hr department you could talk to about reducing your hours either shorter days or part time? Also you don't mention a dh/dp at all? Are you a single parent? Do you have any friends of family who could help you as it sounds like you need some support?

Marilynsbigsister Thu 14-Jul-16 22:04:45

Do you have a partner OP. .? If so, why isn't he/she doing more. Why is it all down to you ? Babies are made by two. - apologies if this is insensitive question if you have been bereaved during pregnancy .

AWaspOnAWindowInAHeatwave Fri 15-Jul-16 08:48:45

Thanks Socks and Ickle. Interesting to know I'd trigger SMP for sick leave - although if I was to go off long-term sick, I'd feel a fraud because I'm not actually sick. And they'd either have to take someone on to replace me, or the department would need to be dissolved to keep the business working efficiently, and I'd find myself without any work to go back to! Do you know whether my rights would be protected the same as if I was on actual planned mat leave?

Marilyn's - yes I do have a DH. He works FT (self-employed) and is the main carer for terminally-ill MIL. Whatever free time he has, he spends helping me. HTH.

PickleBot Fri 15-Jul-16 09:09:42

The other option is to pay someone to help you get chores done so you get some down time. A cleaner who could tidy and do the washing for you would help ease the load on you dramatically. Or hire a nanny who could do those things and have the kids at home so their day isn't away from home? Both involve money, but it wouldn't cost you more than the drop to part time or going back on ml. the other thing is to think about if you actually like your job enough for it to be worth it. Would you be happier working somewhere else?

Amammi Fri 15-Jul-16 09:35:48

Firstly congrats on your new baby and well done on getting this far down the road. I am exhausted just reading that list of your daily routine!!
From reading your post there are a few different issues but its good that you recognise that you are not a machine and no way can you keep this level of energy going without impacting your physical or mental health.

You feel emotional about working whilst your babies are in childcare so you need to be honest with yourself and decide are you a working mum or not. Say to yourself "yes I'm committed to working because we need the money, it will be worth it in the long run, I've worked so hard to get this far, its for the long term security of my family and children etc" and maybe that will help you gain some peace of mind. Don't feel guilty - they are being well looked after I'm sure.
Going on a bit more mat leave may not solve that conundrum for you as you will still need to face back into work if that's your decision - is it better for you to be in a job where you are established rather than leaving and trying to get work in new place a few months time?
I agree with Picklebot that if you decide to carry on working then you should treat this as a failing project in work and think about what you would do to help it regain momentum. It's a case of hanging in and buying in the help - prepared meals, get a cleaner, send out the ironing, what ever it takes - this is an investment in you and your career, the same as buying a car to take you to work. Could you get family over one weekend so you could get a bit of a sleep and some help to catch up on the housework? Best of luck - this too will pass!

AWaspOnAWindowInAHeatwave Fri 15-Jul-16 13:22:35

Picklebot and Ammami - thank you so much for your kind words. You're right - I need to admit that DH and I both need a bit more support at home. Nursery are lovely and the DC love it there - so i wouldn't want to remove them really. Being a SAHM isn't an option anyway, as I need to earn. DH is spending almost every waking moment at work or with MIL - neither of us seem to spend any quality time with the DC just now - and when we do get the chance, it's fraught with stress over what we "should" be doing instead of simply enjoying ourselves (the continuing build-up of housework/admin etc). I'm going to have a chat with DH - money is so incredibly tight at the moment, paying someone to come in and help really isn't an option - but perhaps if we can each have a block of time (say a morning or an afternoon) at weekend/on our day off whereby one of us takes the DC out, the other blitzes the housework/admin/looks after MIL, then we switch over - it might help us feel a bit less like we are both chasing our tails all the time.

smallchair Fri 15-Jul-16 14:00:07

Could you manage a 4 day week or even a 9 day fortnight? Couple of people at my work do a 9 day fortnight and have the day as "parental leave" which means that they retain a full quota of annual leave (rather than a 9/10ths pro rata) as well as other perks/benefits. gives you a day to catch up on things

flowery Fri 15-Jul-16 14:48:43

I think maybe you can go back on maternity leave. I don't know about the sickness-triggering-SMP thing referred to earlier (and would be interested to see a link to the relevant legislation) but you can work during your maternity leave more than KIT days, it's just that you'll lose SMP. From the DWP technical guidance on maternity benefits (here):

"Once you have used up your 10 KIT days and you do any further work, you will lose a week’s SMP for the week in the Maternity Pay Period in which you have done that work. If a week in your Maternity Pay Period contains only KIT days, you will be paid SMP for that week. If a week in your Maternity Pay Period contains the last KIT day and you do a further days work in the same week for the employer paying you SMP, you will lose SMP for that week."

So you lose SMP, obviously, but that doesn't preclude you from working during your maternity pay period. And presumably that means you can equally stop working during that period and resume receipt of SMP?

SMP does stop if you start work for a new employer, but not the same employer.

flowery Fri 15-Jul-16 14:51:40

The issue is more that you have notified your employer of an end date to your maternity leave. To change your end date you need to give 8 weeks' notice. Maybe that means you could give 8 weeks notice of changing it to a date further away, but they could make you work 8 weeks before going off on maternity leave again?

I'm just thinking out loud now, this isn't proper researched advice. Just musing!

MummyBex1985 Fri 15-Jul-16 20:28:13

This is a tricky one.

Maternity leave is designed to be taken in one block. There's no legislative provision for it to be separated out into separate periods, as is the case with shared parental leave.

On the face of it you've returned permanently to work and so lose your remaining entitlement to both maternity leave and statutory maternity pay. The only exception is if you could argue it was a mutually agreed temporary return, but if you had both agreed an end date to your leave then I think you'd struggle with that argument. And as flowery says, you'd have to give eight weeks notice to change your end date which isn't now possible.

That aside, they have already discriminated against you by pressuring you into returning early. I suppose you could theoretically tell them you wanted to go back on leave and that you would consider their refusal to be an act of discrimination (which it could be, as only women would be disadvantaged by the refusal; but they could probably justify their refusal).

So in short I don't think you have any statutory right to go back on maternity leave, but if you threatened a discrimination claim then they might decide it was the easier option...

MummyBex1985 Fri 15-Jul-16 20:29:28

Oh and it's true that you don't qualify for SSP if SMP would be payable and SMP is therefore paid if you're off sick.

I'd be tempted to be signed off with stress...

Ilovetea82 Fri 15-Jul-16 21:36:21

Not ideal but could you work your hours over 4 days to give yourself one day a week off that way the work would get done but you'd get some time to sort everything else out?

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