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To worry about taking 12 months maternity leave??

(111 Posts)
user1476114613 Mon 10-Oct-16 17:02:58

Hi All,

First post, no idea how to personalize my user name.

I am 3 months pregnant and looking to tell my employer shortly about this. I work for a US company but am based in the UK. I report into a USA-based manager and have no team mates in the UK office, if that makes sense. I am Head of Marketing for Europe and of course work to GMT hours.

I am maybe unreasonably panicking about my maternity leave. HR are based in the US and I know that they will think it's nuts that we are entitled to up to 12 months. In an ideal world, I would take the full year. I am pregnant with my first baby after a long slog with fertility treatment so we are over the moon. I've waited so long for this and want to make the most of it. My role is reasonably specialist due to the area of business we operate in and I am quite popular with managers (sounds like a dickish thing so say but hopefully relevant).

My company has recently carried out thousands of redundancies across the world (we employ 50,000+ globally but it was still huge). We're told we're over the worst but I do worry about being replaced/ditched if I take more than 6 months. I obviously want to find someone who will cover my work well but I am also (very unreasonably!) worried that they'll not take me seriously if I take more than 6 months. The average amongst US colleagues seems to be between 6-12 weeks for maternity leave which seems nuts to me but they don't bat a n eyelid.

I understand that I am legally entitled to return to my original job after 6 months (i'll also tag on about 30 days accrued leave onto this). Would it be sensible to take just the 6 months? Or AIBU to not take 12 months based on an outcome which might not happen? Due to the nature of our fertility problems (early menopause) this will likely be my only baby.

My job is incredibly convenient - I work from home but can pop into the office whenever I choose and my salary is very good. Work is hard but the balance is fantastic if im honest.


Chinnygirl Mon 10-Oct-16 17:07:56

I'd stay home as long as possible and fuck the job if they sack me, I can always find a new one. But thats me, I don't know how important this position is for you. Only you can decide.

Caper86 Mon 10-Oct-16 17:08:29

You don't want to look back on your baby's first months and think 'I wish I'd spent more time with them'. Those months are precious and you'll never get them back, whereas your company will always be there. Im not sure about the legalities when it comes to your HR dept being in the US, but pretty sure you can't be made redundant on mat leave anyway...

Chinnygirl Mon 10-Oct-16 17:09:07

Nobody misses their job on their deathbed, they miss the important times with friends and family.

gininteacupsandleavesonthelawn Mon 10-Oct-16 17:18:07

I'm in pretty much the same situation except the fertility treatment, I'm having 6 months plus 4 weeks parental leave (unpaid) plus some holiday. It's ok saying you'll find another job, but jobs like this aren't 10 a penny, the flexibility it gives me is a massive benefit to my family and I need to pay the mortgage.

MargaretCavendish Mon 10-Oct-16 17:25:38

I can't offer you advice from experience, but have been thinking a lot about the issue as my husband and I are trying for our first child at the moment. Doubtless all the 'nobody misses their job on their deathbed' posts are true, but I would also point out that you spend an awful lot of your life working so having a job that you like is actually quite important. For the little it's worth, I think it's not worth making decisions on hypotheticals of unknown probabilities. The thing is, you could take six months' mat leave and then be made redundant a year later, at which point you could really regret not doing what you wanted to in the first place. If you are made redundant, you'll never know whether or not your length of leave played a role. I think that you should therefore take the leave you want to take rather than trying to second-guess a work situation where you don't really have all the information you'd need to make the call.

positivity123 Mon 10-Oct-16 17:27:49

Do you have a partner? Can your partner take shared leave with you? You do 8 then they do 4?
I'd also be inclined to risk the job. It is a legal right to have this time, not a privilege. Don't feel they are doing you a favour.

JosephineMaynard Mon 10-Oct-16 17:29:50

* pretty sure you can't be made redundant on mat leave anyway...*

That's not the case.
You can't be (legally) made redundant because you're on maternity leave.
But your job role can still be axed while you're on maternity - e.g. if your office was to be closed, or if you were one of a team of 10 and your company decided there was only enough work for a team of 5, it would be legal to make an employee on maternity leave redundant, provided that they weren't treated less favourably because of the maternity leave.

HamSandwichKiller Mon 10-Oct-16 17:30:19

US companies must think the UK standard is crazy. It's 12 weeks if you're lucky in the US. In your situation I'd consider a 6 month leave (I was freelancing and went back much earlier than that), maybe with a staggered return so you can still have a balance. If you don't really care/need the job then stuff it.

Tumtitum Mon 10-Oct-16 17:32:04

Do you have to tell them? I know in the UK you don't actually have to do more than give a months notice of when you plan to return (they should assume you may take a year and arrange cover for this I think). Is it an option by to say and see how you feel after a few months?

Nan0second Mon 10-Oct-16 17:32:39

7 months is a decent amount of time. I was in a 'professional' type job and found I really missed working.
You don't need to decide now (by law).
If it's a great job with good money I would be desperate to try to hold onto it

StubbleTurnips Mon 10-Oct-16 17:34:20

OP - I fully understand. We are 'harmonising' with a giant US corporation, I'm in a very niche role. There's 1 other person doing it in the UK (and he's my ex boss / now friend). I'm planning a full year, I'll stop gap some of the more technical aspects of my role towards the end of next year during KIT days - these have been scheduled and have provided very specific notes / tasks for the next year.

I'm lucky that my cover role will be taking retirement after I return and is doing my role for a year so he can add it to his substantial CV to become a very expensive specialised contractor.

It's a tough choice but I extended my maternity last time round twice at 6 / 9 months respectively - it pissed them off more than planning for a full year.

Solongtoshort Mon 10-Oct-16 17:36:07

What chinny said

I speak as some one back in work in 8 days from a 12 month mat leave and l feel its just gone by so fast.

welshweasel Mon 10-Oct-16 17:39:56

Hmm it's a difficult one. You don't know how you're going to feel after having the baby. I was in a similar position (IVF, likely only child, high flying job) and was surprised how much i missed work and how unrewarding I found looking after a tiny baby. I was quite honestly bored to tears a lot of the time. I went back after 4 months in the end and that was the right decision for me. And that's the problem, everyone's different and you don't know how you will feel because you've not done it yet.

heateallthebuns Mon 10-Oct-16 17:43:20

I know lots of people made redundant on maternity leave. I know it's illegal but companies seem to find ways to get round that. I think if they want to make you redundant they will and it won't matter how much maternity leave you have taken.

You don't have to say how long you're going to take off until you're coming to the end of your statutory maternity leave.

I had twins after fertility treatment and after a year of maternity leave handed in my notice, as I asked for part time and they didn't want me back on that basis. I then had another baby and when he was a year old they called me to see if I would consider coming back part time. Perfect, I've now been back part time for two years and it's great!

I think you have to go with your gut feel. It will work out. You won't get the time with the baby back. Even if you've got a cushy job you might find another or one that's even better.

user1476114613 Mon 10-Oct-16 18:05:01

Thanks so much everyone. I think 6 months plus accrued leave is best - talking of which, would i be able to tag on untaken leave from the lead up to the birth after my mat leave has ended after 6 months in addition to the leave i'll accrue whilst on leave? If that makes sense?!

JosephineMaynard Mon 10-Oct-16 18:59:31

* would i be able to tag on untaken leave from the lead up to the birth after my mat leave has ended after 6 months in addition to the leave i'll accrue whilst on leave?*

Depends on how your holiday year aligns with your planned maternity leave.

As a general rule, holiday has to be taken within the holiday year it's accrued.

So if your 6 month maternity leave falls entirely within your holiday year, then yes, you can add untaken leave from before the birth onto the end if the maternity leave.
If your 6 month maternity leave falls across 2 holiday years, you have to take all leave for the first holiday year before you start maternity leave, or lose that leave. You can't usually carry it over into the next holiday year.

WombOfOnesOwn Mon 10-Oct-16 19:19:29

As one of those US women who went back to work 10 weeks after a much-wanted first baby conceived with help, take your full 12 months -- do it for those of us like me who wish we could do something like that! My god, how I ache to be home with my 7 month old...

FleurThomas Tue 11-Oct-16 06:39:26

You should take as much as you need/want, don't worry about work. The thing nobody tells you when they bleat on about the US system is that at your level women have private healthcare & so often have the best possible antenatal treatment and post-birth treatment money can buy. Childcare is also cheaper (about half the price) of the UK.

In fact childcare is comparatively cheaper in the USA than either Hong Kong or India.

EveOnline2016 Tue 11-Oct-16 06:53:01

I say do the 6 month option, there is no point taking a year off if you are worried all the time about losing your job.

waterrat Tue 11-Oct-16 06:57:49

I was bored and lonely and desperate for part time work by 6 months. Better to go back with flexible hours. Childhood lasts for many years... there is too much focus on that first year.

lastnightiwenttomanderley Tue 11-Oct-16 07:03:23

I've just gone back after 13 months leave (entitled to 36 grin ). Similar high flying professional, board level role.

I'd say take as much as you want to, but remember you can normally adjust the amount with enough notice. It was fully expected that I'd take a year. I appreciate the US issue but don't let that sway you ftom doing what you want. Is yours a niche field? I suppose I felt quite secure in both our practice's financial position and the fact that if it all went tits up I'm quite readily employable as there are few people with my skillset

Also, most people I know take their annual leave before maternity leave kicks in. So plan to finish at 37 weeks, take 3 weeks AL and then may leave. I tried to do this, but then got a v rare pg complication and DS was induced 3 weeks early. So I now have 47 days leave to use between now and March. It means I can work a 3day week until Christmas

juneau Tue 11-Oct-16 07:07:42

How much do you love your job? How much do you need your job? How much do you really want to go back to THIS specific job, as opposed to another one that can be found for you? If you answered 'a lot' to all those questions then yes, I would go back after six months. The American system is hard on women and yes, most of them are back at work within three months of giving birth. Its not long enough, but its the norm and having worked (and given birth) in the US I think your US-based bosses might well see you as being not very serious about your job if you take the full amount of time you can. Is that fair? No, but America is a more competitive place than here. I worked with people who only got two weeks holidays per year and they didn't take it all, because they were worried it would look like they weren't serious about their jobs if they did.

Its also easier to settle a six-month-old into nursery or going to a CM than it is with a 12-month-old. Babies are much more aware of their surroundings and carers at 12 months and your DC is likely to have entered a much more clingy stage by then, which will make both your lives harder if you're trying to go back to work at that point.

Congratulations on your pregnancy flowers

DoinItFine Tue 11-Oct-16 07:08:06

It doesn't matter what you are legally entitled to.

A full year of maternity leave hurts a lot of women's circumstances at work (and often at home to).

Plenty of people regret work or career-related decisions.

Living your life based on what people believe other people might feel on their death bed seems a strange set of priorities.

You like and value your job and are paid well for it. And you know how a year's absence is likely to be received.

The fact that you will lose the right to return to the role you do is significant.

I would plan on taking 6 months.

You can always change your mind if you become obsessed with deathbed pronouncements after your baby is born.

Mari50 Tue 11-Oct-16 07:35:30

I told my boss I'd be off 6 months and back full time after the birth of my DD, I took 14 months (including accrued annual leave) and went back part time and it took me ages to come to terms with the fact I had to go back. Everyone is different. My career was completely unaffected by my mat leave but I don't do corporate work.

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