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Maternity policy - looking for opinions please!

(20 Posts)
poorbuthappy Thu 24-Jul-08 09:48:23

I work in a small company (less than 20 people employed) and i'm the only woman.
As a result of my pregnancy they have had to instigate the "maternity policy" which has resulted in me getting 8 weeks at full pay rather than 6 weeks at 90% and then onto normal £117 per week.

This peed me off a bit because I had to wait 8 weeks for them to tell me this, and they kept saying, oh we are just finalising the money side, just getting all the board to agree so to be honest I was very disappointed to more or less only get 2 weeks extra from them. But hey ho, I managed not to cry until I got home - blush

Now here's the question / rant - they have also included a clause which states that if you return to work within 4 months of going off they will pay you 150% of your salary for the next 4 months. If you return between 4-6 months you will get 150% of your salary for the next 2 months.

So, they have the money available to pay extra if they wanted - but they are choosing to use it to get the mother back to work early rather than using it to help whilst on maternity leave.

This doesn't sit well with me at all - bribing a new mother to return to work early (and I class 4 months as quite early actually!) so wanted a straw poll on here to see if anyone would be attrached by this offer...

Also if you have worked here more than 4 years you get an extra 4 weeks at full pay! Emmm the company's only been trading since Oct 05, so that's a no then...

I know there is nothing which can be done - and obviously they can more or less put what they like in their own policies - but can anyone if this is legal? Moral? Ethical?

I am going to tell them their policy stinks - but in a pregnant nice informal way and that I think they have got it totally wrong just to get it off my chest. Also I am having 9 months off cos thats what I want...(and its twins!)

poorbuthappy Thu 24-Jul-08 09:49:23

attracted not attrached obviously and sorry for the length smile

flowerybeanbag Thu 24-Jul-08 09:57:10


I think getting anything over and above statutory in such a small company isn't a bad deal at all tbh, I think 8 weeks at full pay sounds pretty good.

Can't see the problem with having extra for people with longer service, that's pretty normal.

Regarding the extra for returning early - that's not uncommon either. It tends to more often be extra pay up front which has to be paid back if you don't return to work, but usually no requirement to come back early. But having a strong incentive to come back early isn't that unusual.

The 8 weeks full pay, do you have to repay that if you don't return? If you don't that's extremely generous.

I don't think their policy 'stinks'. I think particularly given the size of the company and the current economic climate it's pretty good really. You might not consider it moral or ethical to have generous extra pay for women returning earlier, but it all depends on what the priorities/needs are for the organisation.

I am sure you will get lots of people coming on saying they only get statutory.

NorthernLurker Thu 24-Jul-08 09:59:17

Well yes I suspect they can do what they like in terms of discretionary maternity pay and yes I agree with you that it stinks! What a great way for your employers to really rub your nose in it that they regard maternity leave as a massive inconvenience and can they get you back in the office asap and forget the whole baby thing! I wuld definately write and say that contrary you are sure to their intentions (ha ha) the policy does not make you feel valued nor does it attract you to return. Did they put a minium return period in? If I were you - I'd look for another job I'm afraid

jamescagney Thu 24-Jul-08 10:01:27

hey poor, like you i'd class 4 months as quite early, but I returned to work 6 months after having baby cos needed to financially (even though I was fully paid all that time blush). Obviously, they want to tempt people - you - back early to minimise disruption but i sympathise with you. About the four years, that's ridiculous as it's unachievable for anyone this year but your ordinary maternity leave should be counted as service, so you'll be quids in for the next one grin. please don't let this upset you, just focus on yourself and your los - many congratulations! and don't let their petty pennypinching ways get to you. <hugs>

mumfor1standmaybe2ndtime Thu 24-Jul-08 10:03:36

I work for a very large and well known company and will only be getting 6 weeks at full pay (for 1st 6 weeks) then onto smp.
So 8 weeks in my eyes is very good! Depending on your income the deal to return back to work early sounds pretty good to, if that is what you wanted.
I would only get smp and no extra incentives.

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 24-Jul-08 10:04:26

Message withdrawn

poorbuthappy Thu 24-Jul-08 10:09:31

I wanted honest so I'm pleased that you have been -

Flowery do you really think 8 weeks full pay is generous considering that for 6 weeks of the 8 weeks they can claim 92% of 90% back?
(think I've got it the right way round!!)

In many ways they don't penny pinch - I work in quite a specialised field and they actually pay really well, good pay rise structure etc so I think that's why I am a little peed off!

flowerybeanbag Thu 24-Jul-08 10:11:55

Well I don't know what your company's financial situation is obviously, or the context of your other benefits.

But having anything over and above the basic for a small company isn't that common, so from that point of view, yes it is generous.

Compared to public sector for example, no it's not generous. But I'd say ime of small private sector companies, it's generous.

Do you know what competitors do?

flowerybeanbag Thu 24-Jul-08 10:13:23

Have you seen the other thread going at the moment about which employers are generous.

Some of them are amazing! shockenvy But there are also lots and lots with nothing extra at all.

zoo123 Thu 24-Jul-08 10:18:33

I think that what you're getting is a good deal if you work for a small company. Remember that they're not obliged to give you anything other than the statutory minimum. Most companies (including the public sector) will include a clause requiring you to pay back anything over the statutory minimum if you don't subsequently return to work for a minimum of 3 months. I don't see the extra pay as an indication that they see your maternity leavfe as an inconvenience, rather an incentive to get you back to work because you are a good an valued member of staff. You have no obligation to go back early but you might choose to in the light of the increased pay.

poorbuthappy Thu 24-Jul-08 10:21:54

Yes I've seen the other thread and it is amazing what some companies will offer!

I think the issue here really is at my last place (a competitor) I only got SMP which is all I was expecting, but the way it was handled sort of built it up for me - although there is nothing to say it wasn't me and my hormones running riot! grin
Even though I wasn't expecting 6 months full pay, my expectations were slightly higher than they should have been.

Anyway, thank you all for your opinions and the gain in perspective!

poorbuthappy Thu 24-Jul-08 10:23:53

Hubby said that unless they offer me £10k a month I didn't have to go back before I wanted to!

Cos these 2 are going to be our last, and my dd starts proper school next Sept I wanted 9 months off so that's what I am going to take...

just off to rob a bank... wink

wasabipeanut Thu 24-Jul-08 10:26:26

Soeaking as someone who got statutory only I think you're getting a pretty good deal actually.

witchandchips Thu 24-Jul-08 10:31:12

I think it is quite generous, most of my NCT friends that were not in the public sector just got statutory. you can understand why a smaller company would find it harder to cover absence than a large one (hence the incentive to come back so early).

Having said this, you might want to point out to your line manager that many mothers (particularly those that wish to breastfeed) will not comeback before 6 months whatever the financial incentive but an incentive to
come back before 9 months or to do some hours of "keeping in touch" during the first few months may work. For example your firm could pay you 150% of your pro-rata salary to do one or two tasks that could not be done by a temp.

LIZS Thu 24-Jul-08 10:41:11

Seems fairly generous - I worked for a big retailer at a maangerial level and only got SMP plus an allowance for my benefits. They can incentivise early returns as they choose and also make the enhanced element(whatever they pay over the SMP) repayable if they set certian conditions like needing to return to work for a minimum period - this must be stated up front. It isn't so long ago that women were expected to return at 4 months, as SMP ran out, and many cannot afford to live on £117 pw so I'm sure there could eb takers . Also there are benefits on both sides to continuity of employment in some roles. tbh your policy sounds pretty good as an opener and hopefully others may yet benefit in the future even if you choose not to, don't knock it!

TigerFeet Thu 24-Jul-08 10:41:27

COunt yourself lucky that you get anything at all

I've never worked anywhere that pays above the statutory minimum

Bear in mind that as well as paying you they have to pay someone else to do your job

Agree that trying to get you back to work earlier than 6 months is a bit off but given that they are a small company and will probably struggle without you, I can see where they're coming from tbh.

poorbuthappy Thu 24-Jul-08 11:04:59

Thank you for all the replies ladies - it really has put it into perspective for me!

drcaroline Fri 25-Jul-08 14:40:15

I too think that the 8 weeks at full pay is fairly good for a small employer - I just got the 6 weeks at 90% statutory minimum from mine.

However, I'm rather uncomfortable at this part:

"Now here's the question / rant - they have also included a clause which states that if you return to work within 4 months of going off they will pay you 150% of your salary for the next 4 months. If you return between 4-6 months you will get 150% of your salary for the next 2 months."

How exactly will this tally with the Department of Health/WHO etc etc recommendation of 6 months' exclusive breastfeeding? If they really want women returning to work after 4 months, then they'll also need a policy for breastfeeding mothers, allowing them breaks and facilities to either breastfeed their baby (if local or a carer can bring baby in) or express and store their breastmilk. If the employer doesn't provide such facilities because they expect mothers to switch to formula, then their incentive scheme would appear to be actively discouraging breastfeeding and depriving babies of the most suitable nutrition - which seems unethical to me.

Surely it would be better for the employer to give the incentive to women returning at 9 or 12 months, when the baby can eat more solids and requires less milk during the working day, is likely to be sleeping better so the mother is less exhausted, and when they have made their own decision to return to work rather than being coerced.

Also, how do they plan to cover maternity absences? If they are getting a temp in to cover, then it might be easier to get someone in for, say, a 12-month contract rather than just for 4 months.

The other thing they might want to consider at the same time is paternity leave, and whether they'll give any enhanced pay for that. There can be disgruntled employees if it looks like a company is being more generous to one gender than the other (e.g. my employer gives 2 weeks' full pay to men which seems at odds to the statutory minimum they give women).

Good luck with the twins!

RuthT Sun 27-Jul-08 22:39:24

Personally I think that the 8 weeks is dependent on the company - if above statuatory then it has to be a bonus.

On the incentives I understand why they have done it but I would go back and ask them what messages they are providing and whether they it fits with thier values as a company or individuals.

They may just not have thought about what it looks like to the actual person going on mat leave.

What made them choose those timings? I would go back and talk about that but tell them what it says to you and therefore what it may look like to other potential employees etc.

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