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I can't return to work and cant afford to pay back my maternity enhancement, help!

(22 Posts)
Herstorynerd Fri 11-Sep-20 16:28:19

Hi all, I was signed off for 10 weeks before my maternity leave with anxiety. I always intended to go back and repay it at least for 12 weeks.
Since I had my baby (she was born at 35 weeks and has a managed condition which requires medication x3 per day) so many awful things have happened in my personal life; family bereavement (beloved FIL), lockdown with a 3 month old which was so isolating, my best friend was diagnosed with cancer had all her procedures alone because of covid had a total mental health breakdown and died which was utterly devastating, now another very good friend is really ill and it doesn't look good. My Mum was shielding throughout and I was so alone through it all. Now my other friend is really poorly I just dont feel I have anything left in the tank. I love my baby and honestly don't think I have PND. But this year has been so traumatic I can't face going back to work, I have to use public transport and work with the public (charity retail sector) 36hrs per week. We cant afford to pay my maternity leave back either but I just can't leave my baby because Im terrified I will bring Covid home and I will either make my baby sick or my Mum will catch it - she was going to do 2 days of childcare for me but if she catches C19 she will die. I had an email from work saying I have to give 8 weeks notice if Im not coming back and pay them 5K and I feel like Im going to have a panic attack just thinking about it.
Does anyone have any advice? I honestly feel totally frozen with panic about it and dont know where to start. Appologies for the long post!

OP’s posts: |
ChicCroissant Fri 11-Sep-20 16:45:27

Sorry for your loss, OP flowers

Firstly, I do think it would be worth you speaking to your GP - you sound extremely anxious and they may be able to help.

Secondly, can you manage without your salary? There are a few things to think about before you confirm that you are not returning to work. You will have to repay the enhanced mat leave, but they may be willing to accept instalments if you ask them and the sooner you tackle this the better. But do give some though to speaking to your GP, hope you get it all sorted OP.

Batshitbeautycosmeticsltd Fri 11-Sep-20 16:47:33

Payment plan with your employer? They can and will chase up that debt.

flowery Fri 11-Sep-20 16:58:45

If you only have to go back for 12 weeks in order to keep the £5k, could you not manage just that? You'd be effectively earning normal salary plus not having to pay back £5k, and 12 weeks is not long at all really. Is managing for that long not at all an option?

RedCatBlueCat Fri 11-Sep-20 17:23:27

How long have you been off?
Do you have to work those 12 weeks, or can you use accrued holiday to reduce it?
Is there any maternity leave left for your partner to share, and have him at home looking after baby while you work the 12 weeks?

It sounds like you might need to go for the least worst option, and a brain storm of what those options look like might not be a bad idea.

I'm sorry about the tough times you've had flowers

Lonelylockdownlass Fri 11-Sep-20 17:27:49

Could you not try and go back to work? Use holiday to reduce the days per week you do. If it’s too hard maybe get signed off sick? (I don’t know what your employers position would be wrt repayment if you were off sick)

What a difficult decision. I’m sorry you have had such a rough few konths

Ginogineli Fri 11-Sep-20 17:32:08

I’d go back a couple days then go off sick

It’s still classed as being back so you’d be fine

That or go back couple hours a week

You only have to go back doesn’t matter how many hours

mummyh2016 Fri 11-Sep-20 17:37:35

@RedCatBlueCat has the best idea, could your OH use the rest of your leave so you can go back and he look after the baby?

S1p1der1 Fri 11-Sep-20 18:41:32

To put things into perspective, is your DH going out to work daily ?
Are you all shopping on line, including your DMs household / is she working ?

If you decide not to go back to work, you need to be happy with the decision that you have made

The situation with the virus will hopefully improve in the future

catanddogmake6 Fri 11-Sep-20 18:45:40

Usually sick leave counts towards the time you are required to work. I would contact the GP, maybe they can help with the anxiety, if not they may well sign you off. I think this would be a good place to start in your circumstances. Hope it is resolved.

Herstorynerd Fri 11-Sep-20 20:56:40

Thank you x

I do need to return to work, money is tight and it was always the plan for me to go back. My life is so much different now from when I left work though (DM and BF were my main childcare/support network). You're right there is so much to think about. I'm lucky to have a job to go back to atm. I guess it is all down to whether I can deal with the risks so I will have a chat with my gp. I just wish I had more time to come to terms with everything and just be able to bounce back in with a positive head on like I wouldve done before all the shit hit the fan!

OP’s posts: |
AntiHop Fri 11-Sep-20 21:02:24

Maternity action have a helpline. It's worth giving them a call for advice. Good luck.flowers

dudsville Fri 11-Sep-20 21:02:49

Op, speak with your manager if you feel the relationship is safe enough for you to do so. You may be able to change or reduce your hours or alter your responsibilities. If you can't and you have to hand in your notice then they would also be forewarned if you had to take sick leave.

flowery Fri 11-Sep-20 21:53:28

Ginogineli

I’d go back a couple days then go off sick

It’s still classed as being back so you’d be fine

That or go back couple hours a week

You only have to go back doesn’t matter how many hours

Have you read the terms and conditions of the OP’s employer‘s enhanced maternity pay policy?

You have no way of knowing whether return on much reduced hours would be possible or would meet the terms of the maternity pay enhancement.

It’s also unlikely the employer would class coming back to work briefly then going off sick as “returning to work” for 12 weeks.

minipie Fri 11-Sep-20 22:18:19

Have you spoken to your work? I would speak to them and say everything you have said here, including that you do want to return.

Then ask for some flexibility. That could be
- reduced hours
- delaying your return using unpaid parental leave. You are legally allowed to request 4 weeks per year
- delaying your return using accrued annual leave
- a sabbatical
- some combination of the above

Ginogineli Fri 11-Sep-20 22:20:05

Actually pp in most cases whether the believe it or not it’s down as fact

If you go back you go back

If ur sick ur sick

They can’t prove motive

Ginogineli Fri 11-Sep-20 22:21:47

I have experience of this and in most cases you are told you have to return

On now basis does it stipulate conditions of return eg hours, sickness etc

I had an employee who returned two hours a week!

SylvanianFrenemies Fri 11-Sep-20 22:46:30

Sorry you are having such a hard time.

Return to work, but go off sick.

flowery Sat 12-Sep-20 08:41:16

Ginogineli

Actually pp in most cases whether the believe it or not it’s down as fact

If you go back you go back

If ur sick ur sick

They can’t prove motive

What do you mean “it’s down as fact”? And what has motive got to do with the price of fish?

In my experience it would normally be perfectly possible for an employer to say that return to work means actually being at work. Sometimes it explicitly says that but even if not, wording is usually used to ensure that if someone doesn’t actually come back the employer can say they have not met the conditions.

Many decent employers would waive it if the person is ill and cannot return. But they are certainly not obliged to and no one here is in any position to advise the OP that her own employer would allow this.

Todaythiscouldbe Sat 12-Sep-20 09:25:32

Ginogineli

I have experience of this and in most cases you are told you have to return

On now basis does it stipulate conditions of return eg hours, sickness etc

I had an employee who returned two hours a week!

This is totally wrong advice. My contract stated I had to return on the same hours for 3 months. I could, of course, go back part time but it would have extended the period I needed to return for.
Enhanced maternity pay terms and conditions are different with every employer.

KihoBebiluPute Sat 12-Sep-20 09:50:53

if you don't return your former employers still have a duty of care to you not to put you into serious financial hardship that could damage your health and that of your baby. you can acknowledge the debt but say you can't afford to pay back more than £10 per month (or whatever you can afford whilst still making ends meet)

check that the amount they say is owed is correct. you do not have to pay back the statutory minimum (6 weeks at 90% of normal pay plus the next 23 weeks at the SMP rate) or the value of any other benefits that you normally received before your leave (pension contributions etc). you only have to pay back the amount you got extra in addition to this (and tbh not many charity retailers actually offer more than the minimum so do double check that the amount you got was definitely £5k more than the minimum you were entitled to)

Florencex Sun 13-Sep-20 06:23:36

former employer has a duty of care to you not to put you into serious financial hardship that could damage your health of that of your baby

Where did you get this from? It sounds very odd that a former employer would have a “duty of care” in relation to a former employees financial situation or even a current employees financial situation.

If the employer took OP to court they might need to accept a payment plan, but that certainly is nothing to do with “duty of care”.

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