Are you cutting your maternity leave short due to money worries?

(104 Posts)
RebeccaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 26-Mar-13 10:22:26

According to research published today, a third of new mothers are planning to return to work after just six-eight months on maternity leave because of financial pressures - Telegraph article

The survey, which was carried out by MoneySupermarket.com, also shows that one in three expectant mothers will receive only statutory maternity pay.

Justine is quoted in the Metro article on this, she has said "There are all kinds of financial pressures on parents, whether it's the dip in salary whilst on maternity leave or the rising cost of childcare. It's great to budget if you can, but hold fire on buying a multitude of baby products in advance."

What do you think? Does this ring true for you? If you've cut your maternity leave short because you're worried about money, what effect has that had on your home life? And do you think the government's doing enough to support new parents?

I went back to work after 18 weeks' maternity leave because that's how long I had full-pay for. There is no way we could have managed on one wage alone, and I earn slightly more than my husband. I'm extremely lucky to have great family support so DD has spent time with her grandparents whilst we've both worked full-time.

I'm torn about the government support. Part of me believes very strongly that families should stand on their own two-feet and support themselves. But part of me also acknowledges that society needs families to be supported so that they produce children who grow into loving, motivated, disciplined and self-reliant adults.

Businesses should support families more, because long term, if the motivated, hard working parents have children, those children are the employees of tomorrow. If your best workers don't have children because of financial worries, where are the employees going to come from in 20 years' time? Because it's highly unlikely they will come from a background where parents don't work, aren't motivated and are reliant/expectant of state support to live.

Oodsigma Tue 26-Mar-13 10:54:53

I'm going back at about 7 months incl AL as I'm the main earner and we need my wages. I can only justify that long due to the AL/KIT days boosting my pay. I have also had bad SPD & complications from my C-section meaning I need a few months at least to recover post birth before fit enough to do my job. I am also high risk for PND and going back into a job which exasperates that so I need to be strong that way too.

I would have liked to transfer the rest of my leave to dh but he's on a zero hours contract and we are unable to.

Carolra Tue 26-Mar-13 10:59:33

I would have liked the full year off work but we couldn't manage it financially. Its not worth dwelling on, but I did feel sad and resentful at the time. We're hoping to have a second at some point in the next couple of years and we're already saving for my mat leave so that I can hopefully have a full year.

FreelanceMama Tue 26-Mar-13 10:59:39

I went back to work after 6 months leave, but then my partner took 6 months as Additional Paternity Leave. It was partly due to financial pressure (my self-employed work is very well paid and can be done from home so no commuting costs and I only got maternity allowance for those 6 months) but also because we wanted to share the leave between us. If I'd been an employee I would have taken the full year but running my own business makes it harder to take such a long break from clients.

In hindsight, I would have liked to have had longer on leave, or gone back to work fewer hours, but I think it worked out well for us as a family and we're shifting to both work part-time. In a strange way, learning to live off one combined salary is a good thing because we're realising that we were spending money without thinking before, and hopefully it will help our children learn good financial habits. We've borrowed lots of things rather than buying them and making good use of the free services, like the children's library and play sessions.

leniwhite Tue 26-Mar-13 11:00:41

I'll be going back after only 4- 5 months because I'll only get maternity allowance, no way we can survive on my OH's self-employed income for longer. Although I've worked for the same employer for 2 years plus, my contract was changed in December, meaning I didn't qualify for full pay after leave starts.

mamageekchic Tue 26-Mar-13 11:33:23

I'm the main earner and my company offers only stat mat pay. I had to return to work when DD was 8wks, she's almost 2 now and barely a day goes by when I don't regret/resent it.

sleepyhead Tue 26-Mar-13 11:39:42

I'm planning on returning after 6 months as opposed to the 12 months I took with my first child.

This is partly because I'm the higher earner this time around (dh made redundant a couple of years ago and when he found another job it was considerably lower paid) and so it makes sense financially for me to return sooner, but mainly because I can share the leave with dh so he's taking the second 6 months - 3 at SMP and, if we can afford it nearer the time, 3 unpaid.

If it all works out then dc2 will still have one parent at home for 12 months so I'm happy with that.

I have felt under pressure to work much closer to my due date because of returning sooner (will finish at 38 weeks + 3, take 1 week annual leave and start mat leave at 40 weeks if dc2 not here before then) and the last few days have been quite tough, but the end is in sight.

For my family I think the financial and practical support that my employer has given me has been good. I feel valued and empowered to be flexible in a way that best suits our circumstances.

Dh's employer is not so good and I still worry that he may lose his job in the 6 months I'm off and therefore we'd be under pressure for him to find something else, anything else, and not qualify for him to take the leave as planned - we'd be stuffed to find good childcare at short notice for a start. Fingers crossed that it all works out.

I'm really glad that we don't rely on SMP solely. We'd have struggled. We don't qualify for any other financial assistance other than CB although we might get some childcare help with two children (joint income is around £36k) - I'm dreading entering the maze of tax credits again though and possibly with UC coming in it'll all have changed and we won't be entitled anyway.

Sonnet Tue 26-Mar-13 11:48:58

I cut both my maternity leaves short in 1997 and 2001 due to financial pressure. I took 18 weeks split pre and post in 1997 and 22 weeks split pre and post in 2001.
Both times I had SMP - no enhancements from Employer who incedently I am still with.

I regret it and still resent it.

BeCool Tue 26-Mar-13 11:50:44

I returned after only 6 months with DD2. I would have loved longer and it was not ideal being separated from an EBF baby just as she was weaning.

I had 8 months maternity leave with DD1 - better but still not as long as I would have liked.

In both cases my return to work 'early' was 100% for financial reasons.

BeCool Tue 26-Mar-13 11:51:33

To add I received SMP only, and had the same employer for both lots of maternity leave.

Welovegrapes Tue 26-Mar-13 11:58:03

No, because I think taking the full year is really important to the baby. We are lucky enough to be able to afford this, though we will not be flush.

Happiestinwellybobs Tue 26-Mar-13 12:04:10

I took 7.5 months off after adopting DD. I added on two weeks AL beforehand and 2 months AL at the end of my adoption leave. I would have liked to take off more but was already concerned about my drop in salary due to going back part time. I was lucky however to receive 3 months of leave at half pay + SMP.

I'm currently on maternity leave and have saved to take a year off. However last maternity leave 4 years ago we saved up so that I could take a year off too and then DH, who was self employed at that time, found himself suddenly with no work. It just completely dried up. We were in a horrible situation financially and I have as a result been very mindful of that happening again this time.

Even after I had returned to work last time, DH remained unemployed at home but we were torn between whether to continue getting into more debt paying for childcare for DS in case DH suddenly picked up some work, or giving up his childcare and saving the cost at the risk of DH being unable to respond to work offers. There are long waiting lists for childcare where we live and we have no family support - ironically because our work took us 3 hours away from where our family is!

LovesBeingWokenEveryNight Tue 26-Mar-13 12:14:05

I went back at 8 months, and increased my hours due to dhs going down.

SuffolkNWhat Tue 26-Mar-13 12:21:02

I returned at 9 months last time but will be taking a full year this time, partly so I am maternity leave when DD starts school so I can do the school run for the first few weeks.

cupcake78 Tue 26-Mar-13 12:28:30

I'm self employed so only entitled to sma. Will be going back to work within a few months of dc being born.

opalescent Tue 26-Mar-13 12:30:05

I am today writing to my employer, to notify her of my intention to return after my 26th week of mat leave. I'm extremely sad and anxious about it. Much more so Than I anticipated before my son was born.
The idea of being away from him so much, at such a young age is very unnatural. Unfortunately the sums simply don't add up if I drop to SMP only.

craigslittleangel Tue 26-Mar-13 12:33:09

I went back after 9 months, but was lucky that my OH looked after her till she was 18 months and then she started nursery.
This time round, we have kind of assumed that I would go back to work again at 9 months. But my OH is self employed and he hasn't really worked in the last 18 months. As I am employed, my salary will be the only reliable money coming in, so this may change.

DolomitesDonkey Tue 26-Mar-13 12:33:09

There is a massive difference between being ENTITLED to take 1 year off and actually being financially able to do that.

Nobody, but nobody "owes you" the right to a full wage for a year for being at home. Good if you get it - but back in the real world...

Each and every one of us has to live to our own budget.

Mandy21 Tue 26-Mar-13 12:44:00

I think its really sad that people have to go back to work so quickly. During both pregnancies, we cut back to the absolute max so we could save and I could have 14 months off 1st time, 12 months the 2nd time.

People often save for a holiday / car / house renovations etc but don't apply the same principles to covering maternity leave. Why is that?

Neeko Tue 26-Mar-13 12:49:33

I went back after six months with DD1 and nine months with DD2. I'd have liked longer with each, but I think most parents would, however long they have.
I consider myself be extremely fortunate as my employer has allowed me to work p/t (three days per week) until August when DD2 will be 3.5 and starting anti-pre. Financially this has all only been possible due to DH doing a very stressful job with ridiculously long hours. Given the choice I'd have gladly gone back f/t earlier if it would have meant DH working less and us having more family time. Given the current financial climate I think we've been much luckier than most overall though.

sleepyhead Tue 26-Mar-13 12:52:00

Because a lot of people don't have the money at the moment to save for a holiday / car / house renovations Mandy.

Because not all pregnancies come when you think they will and 9 months isn't enough time to save enough to cover a year's leave.

Because even when you do save money (as we have done) to try to cover some of your missing salary, something else pops up to bite you on the arse and you're glad the money was there, but it hits your plans.

It's a great idea to save in advance of maternity leave and people should definitely do it, if only to get used to having less disposable income, especially with a first child, but sometimes it's just not possible.

GetOeuf Tue 26-Mar-13 13:00:22

I went back to work purely for financial reasons when dd was 3 months - it was in 1996 when I only had 18 weeks ML, and had to take 6 weeks off prior to the birth.

That, and the fact I was skint from paying childcare costs for years is primarily the reason why I only have one child.

Ironically I now work somewhere which pays full salary for 6 months , half salary for a further 3 and people moan like hell when they drop to statutory for the last 3 months. The maternity provision now is so much better than it used to be. But it is still hard for many people, especially with the crippling cost of living nowadays.

That said, though, I don't regret or resent going back to work. Yes it was very hard at the time but dd and I are very close and my going back to work so early has had no detrimental effect.

BikeRunSki Tue 26-Mar-13 13:26:41

I went back to work after my second child in January. Unlike with the previous ML, i took the three months unpaid time because it was cheaper not to be paid than to have two in childcare. I went back to work to keep job available to me (I work in a specialised field of a profession with high unemployment), but until DS goes to school, I am only just breaking even.

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