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Taking mat leave 11 weeks before due date - thoughts?

(26 Posts)
MtnBikeChick Mon 01-Apr-13 19:01:37

Hello there, I wanted to canvass views about taking 'early' maternity leave (i.e. as soon as statute permits). Some may have seen from other posts by me that I am far from happy in my current job - I am in the legal profession and work FT. I moved jobs last year so will soon have been in my current post 12 months. I am 12 weeks pregnant. I have not yet told my employer. I have a 3 year old. Honestly, I plan to use the latter part of my maternity leave to look for a new job - I want to work PT (something I have done before). I do NOT qualify for enhanced maternity in my current job as the right doesn't kick in unless you have been employed for 2 years on your EDD - I knew this when I got preggers and am fine with it. Frankly, I have been so close to resigning over the last few months that only have stat maternity pay is the least of my worries. My job is relatively demanding in terms of hours, I do not get on with my boss and one of my direct team mates, I feel overloaded all the time (and I have done a VERY demanding job in the past so I am not someone who typically feels overloaded) and it has got to the point where I feel sick when I think about work. I am considering taking my mat leave on the earliest date possible (which would be around end July/early August). I really want some time to breathe, some time to consider my future options, and to spend some time with my son. My husband is travelling constantly at the moment, in a very demanding job, and I feel our family life is under a lot of strain. I am, however, very worried about how my boss will react to my request. I am basically scared! I know this must sound ridiculous but has anyone any experience of requesting this and their employer pushing back? I realise perception of me will change significantly, but I really don't care.

thedevilisinthedetail Mon 01-Apr-13 19:14:30

With my first pregnancy I worked full time till 37 Weeks. I liked my job it was just me and dh and it seemed sensible.

With my second pregnancy I could have written your post...I went at 29 Weeks because I hated everything about my work. Dd was nearly 2 and it was four days a week I just loathed. I never went back. Don't regret it at all.

This pregnancy I'm working 2 days a week and planning to do so until 5 days before I'm due. I like my work.

Do what feels right for your family!

Lj8893 Mon 01-Apr-13 19:17:25

I plan to take my maternity leave as soon as I can, not for the same reasons as you.
Our current flat tenancy runs out end of July which should fall the same time I am able to begin my maternity and we are planning to move back to our hometown. I am planning to do the same as you, and resign at the end of my maternity leave to hopefully begin a similar yet part time position elsewhere.

Who cares what your boss will think?! You are perfectly entitled to take your maternity leave at any point after the 11 week mark!
And if your not planning to return there afterwards you really have nothing to worry about.

I think if a woman is planning to return back to her full time job then she most likely wants to take her maternity leve as late as possible so she has more time with her newborn. However as you and I are planning to work part time then we shall still have plenty of time with our newborns when we begin work.

happynappies Mon 01-Apr-13 19:18:42

You don't need to explain yourself to your employer, if you want to start ml early, do it. They are not to know that you don't have health concerns or find travelling difficult etc. I took annual leave before mat leave and ended up finishing about three months before my due date, because I was so tired and not coping well with the commute. It shouldn't really matter to your employer whether your mat leave starts x number of weeks before the baby is due... You'll be off for a period of time, and they will presumably put things in place to cover your absence.

It sounds horrendous by the way, and the stress and unhappiness is something you could well do without at any time, let alone in pregnancy. Be upfront, tell them the date you plan to go on mat leave and start counting down to it. I wish you luck in your search for a better job, and congrats on your pregnancy smile

Chubfuddler Mon 01-Apr-13 19:21:58

It's not a request. You have the right to start maternity leave at 29 weeks pregnant if you want to, as long as you give the requisite notice (I can't remember how long it is). You don't have to justify or explain it to your employer.

I took ML at 29 weeks with first baby, like you a job I had no intention of returning to (and didn't, I got another when DS when 8 months old). No regrets whatsoever.

lexib Mon 01-Apr-13 19:36:08

Hi bikechick,
I plan to do the same and take leave from 11 weeks before. Might have felt a bit awkward about it till I thought - its your entitlement, its there in law, and whether you take it early or later there's still a max you can take. So it's not as if you're diddling them, you're (whether you return or not) taking an alloted time that's yours.
Not sure if that helps you, but sure made me mentally square it away

Chubfuddler Mon 01-Apr-13 20:01:08

If it makes you feel better (and there's no reason to feel bad) the state pays over 100% of statutory maternity costs for employers. So you're costing them nothing.

Voodika Mon 01-Apr-13 20:08:44

Do it and enjoy it!
I was exhausted when working and pregnant with Ds1 and then he arrived early so I had a very short mat leave and felt like I had hit the ground running.
I have recently learnt that if you don't ask you don't get so really sell it to your boss and why it would be good for them. Maybe you could offer to spend more time to handover to someone new. And you won't be asking time off for midwife appointments etc. I've just negotiated returning 1 day a week- result!
Good luck.

ButteryJam Mon 01-Apr-13 20:55:39

I would say go for it too and enjoy it! I started my maternity leave at 32 weeks, and I'm so glad I did.

TerrysNo2 Mon 01-Apr-13 21:03:28

With DS I left work at 38 weeks, when I got pregnant with DD I left at 28 weeks, I liked my job but I wanted to spend as much time with DS while it was just him until DD s born. I took 4 weeks holiday at the beginning and tagged on 4 weeks at the end so in total I had 14 months of and went back when DD was 11 months. It was awesome all round grin

Congrats and good luck!

megarobotdiscoparty Mon 01-Apr-13 21:05:22

Do it and feel no guilt! I'm 33+1 with DC1 and similar position with job - unbelievably high stress (and workload increasing every day), not intending to go back as would like to do similar but p/t. I spent the last few months pingponging between sticking with going off at my planned 36 weeks and bringing my ML forwards as work pressures increased and I've got more tired.... now it's too late and I REALLY regret it. Three more weeks to get through and I've got no idea how I'm going to do it. I was really worried about employer's reaction to me going off earlier, now I wish I'd just gone with my instincts and done it! Good luck!

olivertheoctopus Mon 01-Apr-13 21:07:27

Who gives a rats ass what your employer thinks, sounds horrific. They can't give you a bad reference because you choose to exercise a statutory right so I'd just go for it. My only concern would be the viability of looking for a p/t job when you aren't going to be in a position to start it until after your mat leave. How long are you planning to be off for?

AmandaPayntedEgg Mon 01-Apr-13 21:15:41

Do it, but be clear with yourself that you are using it for thinking space and time with your older child.

Unless you are planning on going back very quickly (i.e. well under three months), you aren't going to be able to use that time to job hunt.

Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy.

marriedinwhiteagain Mon 01-Apr-13 21:16:42

You are statutorily entitled to start your maternity leave at 29 weeks if you wish. If your pg is making you feel ill you are also entitled to be medically certified as unfit for work up until 36 weeks when you statutorily start maternity leave in those circumstances.

I worked until 34 weeks (and was struggling when pg with DS - exhausted, Braxton Hicks, difficult journey, stressful job). I thought I had six weeks to get ready - he came at 36 weeks and I wasn't ready practically, physically or emotionally - but hey that was 18 years ago.

If you don't intend to work put yourself and the baby first - and your ds and DH of course. xx

fuckwittery Mon 01-Apr-13 21:21:17

I've just quit a full time job as a lawyer because it was hell and I felt like you, sick with anxiety all the time (to the point where I was regularly throwing up through stress). My plan was to stay at home until my youngest started school, however shortly after giving in my notice found out I was pregnant -doh! Missed out of 6 months full pay maternity leaves but you know what, I am still so happy I don't have to be stressed every waking hour (plus waking in the night for some more stress!). If I hadn't quit I would have on mat leave at the very earliest opportunity, definitely. You are doing the right thing, spend some time with your eldest before the baby is here. And think about a new job for your return! I have come to the conclusion law and motherhood do not mix very well but I have happy friends teaching the LPC and working as PSLs.

dottt Mon 01-Apr-13 21:25:23

I did that with my second, similar circs as you, I took holiday too. :-)) go for it!!

Gingerbreadpixie Mon 01-Apr-13 21:29:44

I'm taking my mat leave at the earliest date possible, and front-loading it with whatever holiday I have left by then (likely 3-4 weeks). I like my actual job and my team but I'm having a difficult pg, my boss is unsupportive and we've just moved offices and my commute has gained 20-30 mins each way. So I'm leaving "early" and may take up a short course to keep me occupied!

MtnBikeChick Mon 01-Apr-13 21:46:44

Thank you everyone! You all make a lot if sense grin
To be clear, I am not planning on looking for a new job until well after baby arrives, and I already have some options

PandaWatch Tue 02-Apr-13 10:54:28

"If it makes you feel better (and there's no reason to feel bad) the state pays over 100% of statutory maternity costs for employers. So you're costing them nothing."

That's not quite right - employers still have to pay the employee's NI (which they cannot get reimbursed).

But in my experience, most employers will always do what suits them without regard to their employees beyond what they have to do for their employees. So you should always put yourself and your family first.

Good luck with it all!

lovelychops Tue 02-Apr-13 12:02:18

Do it. You need to do what's right for you, and if you hate your job then why not?
I took mine the first day I could, for different reasons but didn't regret it at all. I was organised, happy and relaxed for the rest of my pregnancy.

FuntimeFuschia Tue 02-Apr-13 12:29:14

I was out of that office as soon as I hit the earliest date possible with my first DC and never regretted it. Had always planned to work up until the first contraction if possible (plans! ha!) but ended up with a vicious, bullying boss who seemed to target me from her first day and continued even after I had eventually left the organisation (was giving out misleading and inaccurate references). She would start snapping at me the minute I walked in in the morning, got to the point where I would have a panic attack on the way to work sad
Not a difficult pregnancy, but very stressful. Ended up in hospital around 25/26 weeks with a UTI. Returned to work and just told her I was going on MT as soon as I could. I actually thought once I was out of the office and 'safe' she couldn't really hurt me anymore, and I felt so much more relaxed once an end was in sight.
I used some holidays but still ended up going back when DS was 9 months, only PT which pissed her off and already pregnant with DD which pissed her off even more but just got my head down, did the 6 months required post ML to ensure I wouldn't have to pay any of it back (Company Mat Pay was very generous) then handed my notice in with utter joy.
I like working, I had never 'used' my pregnancy to avoid work or responsibilities, I always always tried to arrange appointments out of work time, or early/late in the day so didn't miss too much (and always made my hours up) but nothing was ever good enough. Once I'd left, all that stress and anxiety just vanished and I had a lovely few weeks (DS was 3 weeks early) just lumbering round the house washing baby clothes and eating sausage rolls.
Just go for it. Things will work out smile

Oh my god that was long. Very cathartic though.

catlady1 Tue 02-Apr-13 14:02:21

I have two jobs and I left one at 29 weeks and the other at 36. The former I hated and don't intend to return to so I'm glad I went as early as possible. I did start to get a bit bored since I went two weeks overdue but I don't regret taking my leave when I did - I'll probably never have that much time to myself again, after all.

funkky Tue 02-Apr-13 17:38:17

fwittery. Exactly like you, I quit a well paying job in the city due to stress and bullying. Got pregnant soon after and not being able to get any FT job cause I think it will be unfair on new employer. Keep thinking how much maternity pay could have been but honestly much happier and no panic attacks anymore.

@ the OP, if i had not left when i did, I definitely would have left at the earliest possible for Mat. Leave as your health and well being is very important and if time away will make you feel better, please dont feel bad about it!

fuckwittery Tue 02-Apr-13 18:11:46

Funkky are you pregnant now - will you get maternity allowance? I am pleased with this as although its less than the 6 months full pay my old employer paid, at least no conditions attached to maternity allowance and I wasn't expecting to get paid anything at all for the next 18 months!

Binkybix Wed 03-Apr-13 14:25:48

I was in a similar boat - new job (but in same organisation), I think overloaded, but finding it difficult to judge when over emotional etc - losing all my confidence, crying every day, throwing up.

I felt like it would be defeat, or giving in to leave earlier than planned. My dad, DH and friends convinced me that I shouldn't think of it like that, and that I could think of the time off as a little gift to myself. I decided to leave at 30 weeks (last day this Friday) and am so glad I did. I'll worry about mending any reputation stuff and where to go back to in a bit, but I need some breathing space now.

Do it if it feels right, and don't look back!

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