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

(104 Posts)
RebeccaMumsnet England (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?

BikeRunSki Brazil Tue 26-Mar-13 13:28:19

...by which I mean that the contribution of my salary to the household as a whole is no greater than household expense of childcare costs.

Scrazy Tue 26-Mar-13 13:40:49

I had my only child in 1994. Like the last post, you had to take 6 weeks prior to due date then had a further 3 months. All on SSP, I didn't even get the 6 weeks at 90% because I hadn't worked for the same employer for 2 years (I had actually 13 years service) but had a 2 year break travelling and working for someone else.

I was a mortgaged single mum and it sucked tbh. It was only when I started my current job that I realised how much maternity leave had changed. I think people who are able to take 6 months on full pay then a further 6 months are working for very fair employers.

GetOeuf Tue 26-Mar-13 13:44:32

Scrazy yes I only qualified for maternity allowance (or whatever it was called) and not 90% of full pay as I hadn't worked there for 2 years. And WHY was it required to spend 6 weeks at home before birth. I tried to argue to stay at work longer but it was inflexible - I had to stop 6 weeks before my due date.

I think it is rather unusual to have an employer pay 6 months full salary. I look at that and think it is brilliant in comparison with what was available when dd was a baby.

MorphsMum Tue 26-Mar-13 14:03:18

Am a single parent. Took 7 months' maternity leave including annual leave, I was lucky to get 4 months on full pay. Honestly debated whether I'd be better off quitting job and going on benefits, to care for two DC full-time. Decided to go back to work and my income is now pretty much half WTC/CTC and half earnings, and half of total income goes on childcare! Nonetheless I would prefer to be working part-time than SAHM, personal choice.

dinkystinky Tue 26-Mar-13 14:07:15

I took 6 months mat leave with DS1 and one month unpaid parental leave - and the same with DS2. Now pregnant with DC3 and planning on having 6 months maternity leave plus an additional 3 to 4 weeks of annual leave to mean I have 7 months off with this child too. I have saved up in advance and budgeted for this maternity leave - but cant make the sums work with taking any additional time off.

Patiencedeficit Tue 26-Mar-13 14:11:50

I have taken the full year but that is because once I return to work and pay for full time childcare for my 2 children, and I have also paid for the train season ticket there is actually very little left... Long term it is worth it but it's a fine line.

AmandinePoulain Tue 26-Mar-13 14:17:40

I'm going back in 7 weeks when dd2 is 9mo. I'm 'lucky' in that I got 8 weeks full pay, 18 weeks half pay + SMP and then 12 weeks SMP. I was also lucky that dd2 was born at 37 weeks and I had a lot of AL to use up before I finished so she'll be 9mo when she starts nursery, and I finished work at 34 weeks. I saved up very hard to manage the last 3 months (to the earlier poster who compared saving for ML to saving for a holiday - there is a massive difference in 3 months salary to a holiday hmm). I would love to have a year off but we just can't afford it. I've got a friend who only got 2 months full pay before dropping to SMP, had I been in that situation I would have had to go back far sooner.

With dd1 I could only afford 6 months, but then dh was able to work flexibly at the time so she didn't have to go to nursery until she was over 1. This time that isn't an option, so I'm glad I have been able to take longer off.

I have mixed feeling on this really. Whilst I love being off, and wish I could have longer, I don't really see why I should be entitled to take a fully paid year off. There's no physical reason why I can't work, yet I think that spending time with my tiny dd is very important. Plus she's breastfed, and she's reluctant to take bottles but she'll just have to! It's a tough one!

boardingschoolbaby Tue 26-Mar-13 14:19:56

Yes absolutely- I will be taking off 6 months only as we can't afford me to have longer off. I am the main earner in our household, and I only get 6 weeks maternity pay so any longer than that and we would start to need to get into debt which is hardly a good way for family life to begin; back to work it is, using onsite child care plus granny and grandad taking the baby for two days a week.

Thurlow Tue 26-Mar-13 14:26:46

I went back after 9 months mat leave, so DC was only 8 months old. We barely managed to get by on minimum statutory, we wouldn't have managed another month or two without my income.

However I'm not sure that there is much more than anyone can do about the situation. In the current climate, increasing statutory maternity pay will put a lot of smaller firms at risk, or disuade them from hiring women. And I would rather the money went to other public services, or turning the economy around. Or looked at the costs of childcare overall.

missorinoco Tue 26-Mar-13 14:50:20

I went back earlier after my third child. Despite cutting back everything we couldn't afford me to have time on SMP.

TantieTowie Tue 26-Mar-13 15:04:09

I went back after six months with DS, and six weeks with DD. I'm self-employed and didn't want to lose my main client the second time around. But working from home meant I could have her with me all the time, and I'd work around her sleeping in a sling (which meant she used to sleep for a few hours at a time) - and it was lovely. When she started to be more awake I had to draft in a nursery, so she started at 9 months and still goes for three days a week.

I do pay so much in childcare for those three days a week now that she's aged two that I worked out recently I could simply not do quite a lot of my work and not have childcare and the result would be the same. I'd be sacrificing quite a lot of progress I have made in that time in my work in order to achieve that though, and would also end up doing my work in evenings/naps - doing it less well and risking losing it.

girlsofsummer Tue 26-Mar-13 15:20:34

I am main earner and went back at 6 months both times (closer to 7 months with No 2)
I could only afford to take this long (as opposed to 3 months) because my employer has a general additional maternity pay policy. However half of the money is held back until I have been back at work for 6 months (like a bonus) so it is conditional. With the last mat leave I took a loan to cover the fixed costs and paid it off when I received my return to work “bonus”.
I didn’t want to go back to work at that stage of my baby’s life either time but nor do I waste time regretting it. It is easier for the child to settle with a childcarer at 6 months than it is at one year so I am not sure I entirely agree its “better for the baby” (although not denying it might be better for baby not to go back to work at all). Its easier to get back into the swing of work after 6 months than one year (I would guess, I found it a big readjustment both times, more so after No 1).
I don’t think employers should have to pay for a year’s mat leave. I do think working FT with a baby aged under a year is very hard work physically (breastfeeding, lack of sleep etc) but you just have to be prepared for that.

girlsofsummer Tue 26-Mar-13 15:24:40

PS for anyone reading this thread who is feeling guilty at not being able to take the full year off I don’t think my relationship with my children has suffered because I went back to work at 6 months or from working FT. I still used to carry them both around in a sling every evening up to about a year old while I did dinner etc, kept up the BFing with both (one of them until 9 months, the next 15 months). Had them in my bed every night so always felt very attached (and still do feel this way, 3 and 8 years old now).

Scrazy Tue 26-Mar-13 15:33:25

GerOeuf, when you look back it was quite bad really. I had to get her on bottles and sleeping through the night at 10 weeks or I don't know how we would have functioned.

I think the answer is affordable childcare for all depending the families needs, as well as a reasonable amount of maternity leave.

GetOeuf Tue 26-Mar-13 15:35:06

I did what you did girlsofsummer.

I wanted to spend every spare moment I had with dd when I wasn't working, so I carried her around and she slept with me for ages. She also didn't have a particularly early bedtime so I could spend the evening with her (went to bed gone 8 or so). I also didn't have any social life away from her - which I know sounds a bit mad but I had no desire to go out with others after work anyway when she was little, plus was also studying when she was asleep so was too knackered. So my social life and friendship circle did suffer, but that was no sacrifice really (or didn't feel so at the time).

GetOeuf Tue 26-Mar-13 15:40:40

Yes the thing I did feel bad about was giving up bf and transferring her to a bottle. I couldn't get the expressing to work (those bloody hand cranked machines from the 90s were no good, and manual expressing only managed to get out a few drops). Plus I wouldn't have been able to express at work - if I had requested that I think they would have looked at me in horror.

I was very lucky in that I didn't have another child to worry about giving attention to, and dd's father fucked off so I didn't have to worry about him as well. All meant for a very insular life for a few years (work, baby, study, sleep) but looking back I was very happy with my tiny family unit. The only alternative to working was going on the dole and I just really didn't want to choose that, I already felt rotten about being a young single mother without adding benefits to the mix.

I was also very lucky in that dd was a good sleeper from a tiny age. She still is a good sleeper at 17!

But looking back in reality I only think I got through it because I was young and had boundless energy. It was very hard, hence why I have never done it again. The thought of all that work in my 30s - makes me tired thinking of it. So hats off to people who do this for one, two, three children. It must be incredibly difficult.

Mandy21 Tue 26-Mar-13 16:40:40

Amandine sorry, I wasn't saying that a holiday is the same as a baby, I was just saying that people should be able to budget for the drop in salary in an ideal world. I know there are unforeseen circumstances, but surely its down to being a position to be able to afford a baby before you even start trying (or am I turning into my mother hmm? Its not as if maternity leave comes as a surprise!!

I was a postgrad student when I got pg with DS (born in Aug 2010). Because I was finishing my course and doing some university teaching I didn't get a 'real' job until July 2011, when DS was 11 months. I'm pg again now and due in Aug 2013. I will get 2 months on full pay and any additional maternity leave will be paid at statutory rate. I am currently doing a lot of extra freelance work to try and save up some money for when I will be off work and MIL has agreed to take on DS's childcare (she currently does 1 day a week but will now be doing 3) while I am off which will be a big help financially.

With all of the extra work and the reduction in childcare costs I think I can afford to take 6 months plus annual leave, giving me a total of 7 months off. I can't really complain because I know ladies who have had to go back after 3 months but the fact of the matter is that cost of living - groceries, petrol, hikes in electric / oil prices, means that I am worse off NOW than in 2010 when I was a student (albeit on a funded place) and can't afford to take as long off.

Saundy Tue 26-Mar-13 16:46:39

I earn more than DP so am planning to take 5 months off & then have DP take over for the second 5 months when it changes to the minimum payments.

His job has started to look uncertain & if he moves he won't qualify for APL & if he finds himself unemployed there is no MA equivalent for him. I'm worried that if either of these scenarios happen I'll be forced into taking longer leave & we will be financially worse off.

There is not enough flexibility.

leniwhite Tue 26-Mar-13 16:59:45

Mandy - we had to pay for IVF (I'm only 32) so that was a huge chunk of savings, we both do ok for wages but we're currently paying £1350 pcm for rent before any other bills in London, so we saved a deposit so we can buy and cut that monthly outgoing down and be more secure. The whole reason I needed the ivf was because we waited to be financially stable before trying for a family.

We don't have a car or any debt whatsoever but there's a limit to how many things we can save for really on limited income. It's not as if we have lots of children or live beyond our means, but if we had to choose between me going back to work earlier than is ideal and not ever having our baby at all I know what I'd choose.

I also worked up until Friday and I'm due today, so I've done every possible thing to make sure we're not struggling. I'm also waiting on some money I'm owed for work I did in 2010 which we'd factored in so there really is no way to make sure it's all totally fool proof.

BraveLilBear Tue 26-Mar-13 17:20:49

I'm planning on going back after 7-8 months (including AL and KIT top-ups). I say planning because I'm currently 23 weeks and could end up signed off ill up to 11 weeks before EDD, which would trigger ML.

All being well, I plan to work until 37+4.

I find it incredibly frustrating that I will not be able to spend longer with my first DC - until this month, I have been the higher earner, and now the difference is negligble.

With the boost in salary, I could afford to have a little longer off, but OH is insisting that I go back after 7-8 months so we can save up to move to a better area in time for DC to start school - the schools near us are pretty bad.

It is all about choice, agreed. And in making the choice to have children, we decided to not get married first (would take too long to save as we're both in our 30s) and I have spent the last year without spending money on myself eg clothes and hair etc in order to pay off debts. In about 18 months, I'll have clawed back several thousand pounds by just living with the basics. Before this DC is due, I'll be £250 a month better off as a result.

It still upsets me though when I see women with lots of children on council estates (not a sweeping statement, I live in a city with very high unemployment) - I suppose it's jealousy - but then I chose this life, they, presumably, chose that one. You really can't have it all.

DeafLeopard Tue 26-Mar-13 17:25:50

Back in 1999 I had to return to work when DS was 9 weeks old as we only got 6 weeks at 90%.

I bitterly resented it and feel that it was a major factor in my PND and still feel the same to this day.

But we had no choice it was purely a financial decision.

Autumn12 Tue 26-Mar-13 17:40:58

I am hoping to take the full year but it will depend entirely on how we manage financially.

I'd love to be able to save for it but unfortunately we just moved before I found out I was pregnant and all of our money right now is going into paying off move related debts and getting our home as finished as we possibly can before the baby comes. We have damp that needs to be sorted out and other jobs that we have to get sorted out.

DD is 20 weeks old. I'm going back to work next week.

I really don't want to, but we can't afford to exist on SMP and my partner's min wage. I earn more than him, so I"m going to work, and he's going to provide the childcare. We don't have any family who can help us out.

To the poster who said people should save...Well, we did save. £500 a month for the 6 months of pregnancy (i.e. once I knew I was pg!) However, when you're £600 a month off meeting your basic bills, that money doesn't go very far.

When I do go back, we'll still be £300 a month short of meeting our bills, so DH will have to take a weekend/evening job.

God knows what we will do when/if we have no.2 . Probably take a loan out or similar to cover us for the maternity leave period.

I don't expect the govt to provide but it would be nice if childcare was cheaper and it made it worthwhile for both parents to work. IF both of us go back to work and use childcare, his job will bring in £100. I'd rather not have the £100 and have my DD have the input of ONE of her parents in these formative years.

Childcare is a joke. And it's very obvious when you have no family you can use for free once or twice a week. Very jealous/envious of those that have that option.

With DC1 and DC2, i received 6 mths full pay from my employer and went back to work immediately after the 6 months was up. One of my biggest regrets really. In hindsight, i could've taken a bit more time off but at that time, i was worried that the financial implications of not doing so outweighed the benefits of staying home.

With DC3, i took the full year off and it was one of the best things i ever did. I was lucky to receive 6 months full pay. In addition, from months 7-9, my employer paid me 15 percent of my usual salary. That, plus money saved up from not spending on commuting costs, childcare etc throughout the year, especially during the months i received full pay, enabled me to stay home for the full year. We had to dip into my savings towards the end but it was minimal.

Have just started mat leave with DC4 this month and plan to follow exactly the same plan as with DC3. Again, i am very lucky that i get good maternity pay but the difference is that DH is facing redundancy over the summer. Given that his redundancy pay is likely to be rubbish, and that we depend on his salary to pay the mortgage, i am worried. However, this may be my last mat leave and i am determined to make the most of it with my children. So if it means dipping into our savings considerably more than we would like to, then so be it.

Aam more worried about how to cope with childcare costs when i return to work full time TBH.

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