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Teachers and maternity leave

(27 Posts)
ohthegoats Thu 01-May-14 10:44:39

I'm due on 28th September. First baby, no reason to think that it wouldn't be the average of 41+3 or whatever, and so far (only 18+5) I'm feeling tired but fine, going to the gym most days etc.

I've previously had a conversation with my boss where he agreed I would go back to work after the summer holidays, not in class, but doing a project that we've already agreed.

Today he announced that due to a new budget, he wants me to go off at the beginning of the summer holidays - still paid until August 31st, but not at work.

I'm pretty uncomfortable with potentially being off work for three months, both for my mental health, and also financially it could be difficult for us. He knows this, but budgets seem to have taken over his head. Understandably I guess, that's his job.

Part of me is thinking that maybe I won't be up for coming back - I'll be in a year 3/4 class with lots of TAs to manage, it's the beginning of the year, I'll have to set up a classroom over the summer (ladders etc). I know legally I can do what I like, but I'm now dithering.

If you are a teacher, and you were in my shoes, what would you do?

noblegiraffe Thu 01-May-14 10:57:43

Why is he suggesting the start of the holidays and not the end?

How long are you planning to take off? If a year then starting mat leave at the end of the summer holidays would be sensible. You shouldn't be going in over the holiday to set up the classroom - it's not your classroom, your maternity cover should be doing the prep work.

I planned to work to 38 weeks with my first and I didn't make it, finally giving up at 37 weeks. Some people are ok, but don't underestimate how tiring the end of pregnancy can be - I was coming home from work and going straight to bed, and my baby was low in my pelvis so it hurt to walk. I'd had a really easy pregnancy up till then.

BreeWannabe Thu 01-May-14 10:58:30

I am a teacher, and I would (and did) go off when I liked.

He can suggest this, but it's entirely up to you when you go off and do not let them suggest otherwise! Work is work; it'll go on with or without you. But your health, both mental and physical, and your baby are the most important things right now.

ohthegoats Thu 01-May-14 11:18:52

I'm happy that he gets the legal side of things, and that it's up to me. We have a good relationship - he pulled his dad face out of the bag at me when I said I was coming back, to which I just laughed and mentioned the whole legal thing.

but don't underestimate how tiring the end of pregnancy can be

That's what I'm thinking about! Who knows though, I might be fine. Beginning of September I'll 'only' be 36 weeks - I'm thinking that the original project he planned for me (I wouldn't be in class), would involve sitting down and just using my brain. If I can do that for 2 weeks I'd be much happier - 38 weeks seems OK to me, 36 weeks seems early.

I'm not taking the full year, we can't afford it - I'll be back in May, which he is fine with. He's advertised for a September to May maternity cover.

katandkits Thu 01-May-14 11:23:55

I would suggest 1st September as your maternity leave start date. That way you are on full pay all summer as you are not officially on leave yet. I would say that by the start of September you would be 36 weeks already and that is a good time to stop, especially with such a demanding job. It would be better for the children to start the year with their new teacher. Ignore the budget though, that isn't your problem. Definitely do not declare the end of July as your start date as you would lose out financially.

When the time comes, declare the last week of the summer term next year as your return to work date. That way you will again be back on full pay during the summer holiday. A September baby is a massive financial advantage if you are a teacher! You go back for the last few days, you can get sorted for the next term, you probably won't have to teach. Your head won't be pleased as he will be paying you for two summer holidays but it is your right.

katandkits Thu 01-May-14 11:24:40

Ah sorry, see you are returning in may so the summer holiday next year is not relevant to you.

Ewock Thu 01-May-14 11:26:10

I am a teacher and worked up until two weeks before my due date. I went back for one week after the May half term because I did not want to take four weeks before the baby was due. I was tired but felt better for the half term.
If you went back after the summer holidays presumably on the 3rd/4th September when were you thinking of finishing? You could probably manage a week or two, which would give you longer off after the baby was born.
I would stick to finish when you originally wanted to. Budget constraints aren't really your problem, I know we want to be fair with work but in this situation what you want is more important.
Good luck

Itsfab Thu 01-May-14 11:29:06

Why are you worried about money when he has said you will still be paid?

Buttercup27 Thu 01-May-14 11:34:03

I teach in eyfs and was planning on starting my maternity leave at the end of Oct half term. I was due end of November. By mid September I was exhausted and wished I hadn't bothered going back after the summer holidays. Due to an irritable uterus I was signed off work with 3 weeks left to go and put on bed rest. It was the best thing that could have happened as being on your feet all day with demanding children is exhausting. I didn't realise how difficult it would be and it was my second.
With my first I went off 1 month before but cut right down to 2 mornings a week supply as that was all I could manage.
My advice is be flexible it's difficult to know what you will be able to do or medically allowed to to further on in your pregnancy.

Buttercup27 Thu 01-May-14 11:34:20

I teach in eyfs and was planning on starting my maternity leave at the end of Oct half term. I was due end of November. By mid September I was exhausted and wished I hadn't bothered going back after the summer holidays. Due to an irritable uterus I was signed off work with 3 weeks left to go and put on bed rest. It was the best thing that could have happened as being on your feet all day with demanding children is exhausting. I didn't realise how difficult it would be and it was my second.
With my first I went off 1 month before but cut right down to 2 mornings a week supply as that was all I could manage.
My advice is be flexible it's difficult to know what you will be able to do or medically allowed to to further on in your pregnancy.

Noodledoodledoo Thu 01-May-14 11:35:00

I am due on the 24th of September and a Secondary teacher.

I am starting Mat leave on the 8th of September a week into term, for various reasons my job currently manages KS3 and the curriculum is changing this September so I am in for a week to make sure everything is in place, no one is taking on the responsibility whilst I am gone so my Head of Department is adding it to his long list of jobs!!

Also I perfomance manage two members of staff and we complete the cycle in Sept so I am going to do those in that week.

Also the idea of finishing work at 30 weeks seems like a long stretch till baby potentially arrives - we have just moved and so don't have a lot of people near by to meet up with etc so going back for a week at week 37 doesn't seem too bad!

School are fine with this.

ohthegoats Thu 01-May-14 11:35:16

Itsfab - if I leave when he wants me to, I go off on 1st September. My maternity pay starts then, it would mean 3 weeks less at the end of my leave. If I go off when I want to, which is around 22nd September, then my maternity pay starts then, and I get 3 more weeks with some pay at the end.

Basically, if the project was a go-er, I'd be definitely saying I was coming back. If it's NOT, and he wants me in class, then I'm dithering... and wondering what other people have done.

ohthegoats Thu 01-May-14 11:39:28

no one is taking on the responsibility whilst I am gone

Yep, I'm deputy head, and no one is taking responsibility for some of my curriculum bits either. We've trialled the new curriculum this year, so aside from a review next term, I think we're good to go. Someone is stepping up to the rest of the job in the interim though.

ohthegoats Thu 01-May-14 11:41:55

the idea of finishing work at 30 weeks seems like a long stretch till baby potentially arrives - we have just moved and so don't have a lot of people near by to meet up with etc

This applies to me too. Where we used to live I was a 10 minute drive to my mum or SIL, now it's an hour. I have a few friends where we live, but they all work, even the summer holiday is going to be hard work I think in terms of boredom.

Itsfab Thu 01-May-14 11:42:18

I thought maternity pay was a set amount so is irrelevant whether you have it Feb - July or March - August for example, it is still the same amount of time.

SweepTheHalls Thu 01-May-14 11:46:00

No way would I be leaving at the end of the summer hols at 36 weeks, particularly if you are not going to be in the classroom in September! I worked until 39 weeks ( start of the christmas holidays ) with DS1, and until 38 weeks, mid January with DS 2. Stick to what suits you as the money makes a big difference, and if September comes and you are exhausted, ring up and say you are going early, which I believe you can do at any time after 36(?)weeks.

He doesn't have to pay your bills or come back early because money has got too tight, so why is he decideing when you finish work?

squizita Thu 01-May-14 11:48:49

Your teaching line manager cannot make these choices! I am a teaching line manager so know! smile It is whoever is named in terms of HR (in a large school, the HR manager/Head, in a small, the Head/their PA would deal with it). Make an appointment to see your head, it sounds like they're trying to make it 'logical' but haven't taken you into account fully. As for budgets: if you weren't pregnant they'd be paying full pay for a year - they CANNOT change maternity decisions based on budget. Just no. So illegal!

However I have never heard of someone being allowed to work not teaching on a full teaching wage for a few weeks because they are pregnant. In my experience, it's been teach up until you leave: remember the rest of the time we bang on about being teachers, there to teach not do other stuff ... quite rightly but it does mean we cannot choose not to teach if employed as a teacher. So if you get what you want- to work the few weeks back, you may end up (they'd be in their rights) being asked to do your normal job (i.e. teach) for those few weeks - and given that your supply is likely to be there getting to know your class, it may be stressful, scrappy supply and bits and pieces. More stressful?

Personally though I am feeling very lucky indeed that I'm a teacher due in September because I plan to neatly switch from holiday (31st August) to Maternity (1st September). Financially and practically for me, it's much better than awkward mid-year leaving (I plan to go back May or June - the end of next academic year, giving me and my bosses a 'taster' of what I/baby feel comfortable with before the next September... another advantage as if I want to 'downsize' my role they have summer to organise that and likewise if I'm fine I'll not be dreading it over August, I'll know I am fine).

Noodledoodledoo Thu 01-May-14 11:50:18

Too be honest - the current joke is I am allowed a day off for labour as my Mat Cover they had got in place has potentially just pulled out of his training course!!

Itsfab with teaching there is an enhanced package which drops slowly down to SMP so starting early will impact on the return date if money is an issue.

I know I only have 3 days in school with students in and so even if I do have to teach its not for a huge duration.

After 6 weeks I am normally climbing the walls, so 10 does scare me!

PS would just like to point out I am able to post as I have my scan in a while and have been given the day off due to the commute and my timetable!

mameulah Thu 01-May-14 11:51:58

Do you know that in addition to maternity leave it is likely that you can apply for an unpaid Career Break?

I would definitely ignore your ht's idea.

squizita Thu 01-May-14 11:52:54

BTW I am secondary, and very grateful we have HR staff etc'. The world of primary where people seem to have these blurred lines re what can/can't be done seems to be very worrying to teachers at times!

ohthegoats Thu 01-May-14 12:02:44

I'm able to post today because I'm not in class on a Thursday, it's my management day. Although today, I'm not managing anything... especially not the new panic about only having plans for a fortnight of the summer holidays, and having nothing to do for the other 4 weeks of the summer holidays, living in a building site, having to save money, not being able to do normal camping/hiking etc, feeling massive, being too hot, not having to come in to work to distract me. Just had to go and cry in the toilets.

This is just me crying about 4 weeks of the summer holiday, not about another potential 6 weeks at home alone with no baby, or another 8 months at home WITH one. Christ...

Noodledoodledoo Thu 01-May-14 12:18:04

It must be the week for it - I was in bits last night as I have put on weight!! Having been going to a slimming club for the past 18 months its a bit of a shift in thinking that its ok! First weight gain in the whole pregnancy at 19 weeks but was irrationally in floods of tears!!

ohthegoats Thu 01-May-14 12:23:44

Oh I haven't got on the scales at all. I've decided I'm just not going to - consultant is fine with that, he'll let me know if it looks bad. I'm eating really carefully - not eating enough calories to put on weight if I wasn't pregnant, so it can't be that bad.

Boyfriend has just sent me a list of courses running over the summer at the local uni, bless. Thing is they cost £600, which isn't really in my budget if I'm not being paid for 6 months.

SweepTheHalls Thu 01-May-14 17:42:17

I felt the same was waiting for DS 1, I got really annoyed that FH wouldn't let me do any decorating at 40 weeks! How about free uni lectures

ImBrian Thu 01-May-14 19:01:33

I'd go off when you want to in September. With my last dc I left at 38 weeks and had her a week later and with this one I'm planning on giving my due date as my leaving date. I want as much time off with baby as possible as I'm only taking 18 weeks.

Noodle if it makes you feel better I'm only 9 weeks and I've put back on the 4 lb I just lost and my belly looks like there's triplets in there!

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