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Negotiating mat leave pay and back to work

(26 Posts)
mendingheart Thu 06-Jun-19 12:11:05

Hi all,
Looking for some advice on negotiating mat leave with my company. I have not told them yet about mat leave or my pregnancy.

I've been with my company 5 years and hold a really senior roll. We're a start-up and I am the first person to go on leave ever. I've just been promoted to my dream roll! I am sure I may not get anything additional to SMP.

I was going to propose the following for mat leave:
- I am paid full-time for 3-4 months instead of SMP over 39 weeks
- from 3-4 months I phase in part-time from home until about 6-8 months. This would be working 2.5 days remotely with occasional days in the office. (say 2-3 days a month at the office).
- from 8 months I go back to full-time with 2 days from home

I am not sure if I'd be proposing returning too soon. I just don't want to miss out on the roll and for someone to take it over as I really love what I am doing. I'm also worried about being a bit lonely or bored being off too long as I live abroad and don't have any family around.

What do you think of my plan? Any tips or considerations?

Thank you for any advice.

OP’s posts: |
mightymouses Thu 06-Jun-19 12:13:10

The time for negotiation is when you sign your contract, not when you tell them you are pregnant. If this new role means new contract then great, negotiate before signing it.

Nquartz Thu 06-Jun-19 12:18:31

This confused me too, my company has a clear maternity pay policy which is non-negotiable.

Regarding returning to work, I know a few women who went back after 6 months, one after 4 months so it is definitely manageable.

Will the baby be in childcare on the days you work from home? I assume you won't be looking after the baby as well....

Dyrne Thu 06-Jun-19 12:20:49

You say you live abroad, so this may not apply to you; but SMP doesn’t work like that, you can’t have something else ‘instead’ of it or bunch it up like that as it is a legal benefit with terms set out by the government. By all means try and negotiate enhanced maternity pay (maybe do a bit of research on what the industry standard is).

Also - i’m assuming you will still be arranging childcare for your working at home days? Otherwise you are being massively unreasonable on that point. Expect to put a full business case together justifying why it can work for your role and how it will benefit the business.

mendingheart Thu 06-Jun-19 13:08:48

there wasn't anything written about maternity pay in the contract. So I am going to assume it's the statutory one.

Re childcare: Since the nature of my role requires a few hours per day. I'd likely only do 3-4 hours a day and I wasn't planning to have a caregiver during those hours.

OP’s posts: |
Hollowvictory Thu 06-Jun-19 13:09:49

😂😂😂Senior roll! 🥖

Hollowvictory Thu 06-Jun-19 13:11:49

On a serious note, our company won't low homeworking if your planing to do childcare at the same time. You need a nanny or nursery or childminder etc

mendingheart Thu 06-Jun-19 13:13:16

Yes, that was a typo.

OP’s posts: |
RicStar Thu 06-Jun-19 13:15:13

When you say you ' live abroad' do you mean UK is overseas to your home nation? Or you are working outside UK? I would say I work for an sme. We recently increased our mat pay above smp but it is not as generous as you suggest - would not be affordable for us. We also would not allow that kind of phased return but would allow the odd kit day. We do not allow wfh unless childcare is in place.

TheInvestigator Thu 06-Jun-19 13:15:51

You can't work from home without childcare. You are not able to provide any childcare during those hours because you are being paid to work. You need childcare. A lot of employers want to see proof of the childcare you have in place before allowing work from home.

Are you currently full time? Will you be going back part time and getting part time salary or will you be expecting the same pay?

You need to just ask them for their maternity package information and decide from there. If it's just SMP then that's what you get. You can't bunch it up into less weeks in order to still get the full amount over a short time.

Returning to work is a separate issue. You don't need to even tell them if/when you plan to return just yet anyway. And it's silly to do so when you've no idea what sort of birth you are going to have and how you will feel at the time.

Lots if places offer enhanced maternity, but if you don't return then you need to pay it back. That's the sensible route to go down rather than tiring yourself into an early return date

TheInvestigator Thu 06-Jun-19 13:17:44


mendingheart Thu 06-Jun-19 13:22:50

I live in the UK and my family is not here.
I am full-time now and would go back part-time for part-time pay.
But I am thinking now that it's too much to make all these decisions now.
I think I'll take the advice of others and just ask for the maternity leave policy and propose a standard one if nothing is in place. I'd agree to paying back if I don't return full-time or something similar.

If I don't get anything in addition to SMP I'd also consider changing jobs as I do plan on having more children in the years ahead.

OP’s posts: |
Teddybear45 Thu 06-Jun-19 13:24:42

Start ups tend to be more relaxed about homeworking - so I would offer them longer at this stage. You should receive full pay for this because your mat leave essentially ends the minute you start working again and wfh counts — so essentially they could tell you to come into the office at any point during the wfh period.

I work for a large bank, most women in the UK return to work when the ordinary leave ends (a max of 26 weeks). Amongst managers most women return to work within 20 weeks. But we have nursing rooms, offer childcare vouchers, discounts to care services, and a whole host of other benefits that many start ups don’t.

mendingheart Thu 06-Jun-19 13:29:27

The company is very small and I'm really not worried about us coming to an agreement and that changing. (i.e. being told to come in when we've negotiated WFH for 3 months).

I work from home at least 1-2 days a week at current with no children.

I just don't want to miss out on pay because I return early and thought I could use the pay over 39 weeks to get something better in the first months...

As I am reading from others, this may not be a good option. Anyways my company is very flexible. But I'll see what they offer before proposing any alternatives.

I think 20 weeks is probably more realistic. I could do that but wouldn't want to go back full-time I don't think at that point.

OP’s posts: |
RosieEffect Thu 06-Jun-19 13:35:42

You can't get your smp 'bunched' up in the first months as it's paid by your employer but they claim it back from the government. The government will only give the weekly amount whether you use it all or not. You are entitled to £145/week not a lump sum if that makes sense. Anything over that comes from the employer so they won't likely be keen to give you more if it's not their normal policy.

TheInvestigator Thu 06-Jun-19 13:37:08

But the SMP over 39 weeks isn't paid by the company. They are reimbursed for that. If they agree to pay you way above that for just a few months, then that money comes out of their pockets. They can't claim it back. They'd be getting you back into your role earlier, but they aren't any better off financially.

Find out what their ideas are; But don't offer to return to work early if they pay you a higher rate. Standard enhanced maternity pay just has to be paid back if you don't return at the end of your mat leave; but what you're suggesting you want means you'd need to pay your enhanced pay back if you don't return after 3 to 4 months. It's very silly to paint yourself into that corner.

Suggest a standard enhanced maternity package (which they may only want to pay for a few months) but don't agree to go back early in exchange for it.

mendingheart Thu 06-Jun-19 13:42:43

Ok, yes I see how it works now! Thanks everyone. I am more prepared going into my meeting. I'll ask what their policy would be.

And I'll them know I intend to go back around 20-26 weeks. If i need longer I can still take it.

Can I just come back whenever I want? Say around 20 weeks I felt up for it, I just decided to come back. Do they have to take me back full-time right then?

And see what they propose if any enhanced maternity pay to keep me with the company full-time afterwards. I could agree to stay for the next 12 months or something similar.

OP’s posts: |
SoHotADragonRetired Thu 06-Jun-19 13:46:22

Can I just come back whenever I want? Say around 20 weeks I felt up for it, I just decided to come back. Do they have to take me back full-time right then?

You're generally expected to give 8 weeks notice in advance of any change to your date of return once you have confirmed it. Unless and until you state an expected return date you are generally assumed to be taking a full 12 months' leave.

Teddybear45 Thu 06-Jun-19 15:38:36

You can often come back whenever you want in big companies, but can’t extend. At my company there is no notice period to return - you just tell your manager when you want to come back and they’ll either agree or negotiate a date (usually only when contractors / consultants were hired as your replacements).

mightymouses Thu 06-Jun-19 16:14:05

It's not realistic to work from home and look after a baby at the same time. I'm not sure where you think you are going to find 3-4 hours to do work. Do not plan to be able to do this, have some budget set aside for child care.

You'll find out within a couple of hours of having your baby that WFH and caring for a baby are not compatible. Once you have a baby that's rolling round etc you will probably laugh when you think back to a time when you thought WFH and watching the baby were possible 😂

Teddybear45 Thu 06-Jun-19 16:27:12

@mightymouses - I work for a huge bank, and say yes work from home and babies can be compatible. You often have to just work longer or around the baby to make it work. My senior female bosses have all breastfed during internal video call meetings. One even regularly turns off video to change his baby’s nappy / bottle feed while talking. If there’s an issue with baby he apologises then we catch up via email or a seperate call.

You need a flexible employer who understands and to be fair most companies do. This idea that you can’t perform childcare while working is not going to be a valid one in 10 years as many companies adopt start up culture to retain millennials, use better technology etc etc.

TheInvestigator Thu 06-Jun-19 16:28:28

Enhanced maternity packages I've seen are typically contingent on a return for 3 months. If you don't go back and work for 3 months then you need to pay back your enhanced pay. Agreeing to a 12 month minimum return seems overly harsh. What if you got pregnant again within that year? You'd find yourself confronted with raised eyebrows and annoyance.

Don't go in there offering to come back early and stay for a year etc etc. Just ask what they are offering and, if you think it's too far off the industry standard, then suggest a pay structure closer to that standard. But don't offer conditions for yourself. See what they say. If you are going to the yourself down, then stick to something more normal like a 3 month commitment on return and if you don't then you will repay.

QforCucumber Thu 06-Jun-19 16:30:12

And see what they propose if any enhanced maternity pay to keep me with the company full-time afterwards

it's doubtful, they don't have to offer you anything to entice you back full time, and can deny any request for part time working if they feel it is detrimental to the company. You do not have to tell them when you intend to return, but if you plan to return before the 52 week leave are up you will have to provide 4 weeks written notice.

Also be aware that you accrue annual leave while off so people tend to add this on to the end of their leave to increase their pay for their last few weeks of absence.

Mintypea5 Thu 06-Jun-19 16:33:27

My husband works for a small company and one of the ladies he works with negotiated her pay and mat leave because they had no real policy. She got a very good deal (full pay for 9 months) but in return agreed to come back full time for 2 years I think.

Most companies have a set policy tho so it's better to ask and see.

Invisimamma Thu 06-Jun-19 16:36:07

You don't generally get to negotiate terms of maternity leave.

You also can't work from home without childcare.

I told myself I would take 6 months mat leave and return full time. I ended up taking 13 months and returning 3days per week, you really can't decide these things until your child is here and you know how you feel about leaving them.

Also get your childcare sorted soon and get on waiting lists for nurseries. Most nurseries near me are booked up way before babies have even been born and have waiting lists of around 18months!

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