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How much maternity leave for for working (full-time) mums?

(57 Posts)
uwila Mon 07-Mar-05 13:54:14

I am currently sturggling with the reality that I can not financially afford to take as much leave as I would have liked. It seems that everyone around me manages to take so much more. So, I just wondered for full-time career dedicated mums, how much time did others take? I am currently planning to take only what my company provides as paid leave (six weeks) plus another two weeks (maybe three) as holiday. This seems rediculously short to me. But, the truth is I can not possibly afford to go without even a couple of weeks of pay.

So, if you work full time in a career that you are dedicated to, how much time off did you take? And, how much was paid (at a minimum of 80% of your salary) time off?

Kaz33 Mon 07-Mar-05 14:00:52

I took about 6 and a half months with DS1, 6 weeks at 100% of pay and the remainder at 50% of pay. Roughly the same with DS2. I was working in a city law firm at the time and they tend to be quite generous.

My heart goes out to you, there is nothing wrong going back after a couple of months. However it is very tough if you want to spend more time at home. Its tough being a full time working mum, I managed about 2 and a half years before giving up. I am lucky to be able to make that decision though there have been a lot of financial sacfrices for me it has been win-win!

ladymuck Mon 07-Mar-05 14:02:18

I got 6 months off fully paid, though added some leave to the start of it to string it out for nearly 7 months in total. The first 3 months was paid as normal salary, then I had 3 months unpaid, with the salary being paid once I returned to work, being an extra months salary paid after 3, 6 and 9 months of working again

serenequeen Mon 07-Mar-05 14:02:54

i took a total of eight months, of which 22 wks was paid at full rate - 18 wks by my firm plus 4 wks accrued/carried over holiday. the remainder was funded from savings.

motherinferior Mon 07-Mar-05 14:03:15

I took four months off, which suited me, but because I don't have an employer I only got a couple of grand in state benefits; it was a total PITA. I'm rather fortunate in being unmaternal enough to be happy to go back IYSWIM, but I did want that amount of time with the baby.

biglips Mon 07-Mar-05 14:04:04

i took 6 months off on maternity leave (it was 6 weeks full pay and then the rest was £102 per week = smp)

serenequeen Mon 07-Mar-05 14:05:50

uwila, but surely you will need to start your six weeks before the baby is born... how much time do you realistically expect to get with your new baby?

Toothache Mon 07-Mar-05 14:13:00

Uwila - I Was paid 6weeks at 90%... plus 2 weeks holiday. After that it was a poxy £100 per week. We really struggled as I'm the main earner at the moment. But you get a nice tax rebate which helped just before Christmas. And the weekly shopping went on a credit card which we are paying off since I returned to work 6 weeks ago.

uwila Mon 07-Mar-05 14:13:19

I am currently planning to work up to week 39, which is also when Iplan (hope) to have an elective caesarean, so effectively working right up to the birth. Crazy as you will think this is, I did last time, and I suppose I can do it again. I don't like the idea of working so long. But, then I don't like the idea of shorter leave after the baby any more. So, I will go as long as I can and hopefully that is until the week of birth. But, I realise that this plan might have to be re-evaluated.

Toothache Mon 07-Mar-05 14:14:47

Should've added that I took at total of 6mths off. Starting 5wks before my due date.

serenequeen Mon 07-Mar-05 14:14:52

can you beg, borrow or steal any more money from somewhere to let you stay off longer?

elliott Mon 07-Mar-05 14:18:01

It is ridiculously short uwila - but you are unlucky to have such a poor deal from your employer. It sounds more like what I woudl expect from your mother country - is it an American firm you work for?
I was entitled to 18 weeks full pay, plus I still accrued holiday during maternity leave so had a few weeks holiday pay too. First time around I took 7 months total, so about 8 weeks unpaid I think. Second time I actually did several months worth of unpaid work in order to enhance my career possibilities - I took about 6 months unpaid and paying for childcare out of my savings. ouch!
btw I don't work full time but would challenge your assumption that only full timers are 'career dedicated...'
Personally I think anything less than 5-6 months is pretty tough on you and baby. I couldn't function at work if I was still doing night feeds - I know many people do night feeds far beyond 6 months but for me that was a reasonable point at which to actively encourage sleeping through, and also a point where I was reasonably happy to start introducing formula and reducing breastfeeding.

Toothache Mon 07-Mar-05 14:20:55

Uwila - What country are you in? If you are in the UK the Statutory Maternity Pay that EVERY Employee is entitled to is:

6 weeks at 90% pay

20 weeks at £102.60 per week.

So you get a total of 26 wks paid.... although the last 20wks is at a very low rate. At least it's something though??

vict17 Mon 07-Mar-05 14:26:03

I really feel for you Uwila. I had to save beofre having ds so that we knew the mortgage would be paid. We did without holidays, new clothes etc so that I could have 6 months off. I really couldn't have gone back when he was 6 weeks. I found it a real struggle. Even at 3 months I would have found it tough as he wasn't sleeping through then. What child care do you have organised? My nursery won't take them before 3 months anyone so I couldn't have gone back as no family nearby

Lolasmum Mon 07-Mar-05 14:26:51

I took 6 months with dd. 90% at full pay and then 12 weeks £75 a week. Th rest was unpaid and savings were needed to top us up. This time I may take the full year. The cost of nursery for dd + d? will just about wipe out my salary. I ideally would like to go back after 6 months (hopefully sleeping through night at that point) so that I don't lose a grip on my work. Whether I can afford to do that is a different matter. Good luck with working until week 39. I'm hoping to work until week 38. Everybody keeps telling me though that its harder 2nd time 'round! Can you arrange to do any work from home?

Azure Mon 07-Mar-05 14:39:56

I'm impressed by the paid maternity leave that some of you get (and I'm not talking about the statutory minimum). Last time I got 6 weeks full pay, 6 weeks half pay and a bonus (equal to a portion of the remaining 6 weeks half pay) when I went back. I was off for five months. This time my company pays for 3 months full pay, then statutory minimum. I would like to take at least six months off (due end of August), but just don't know how we could afford it. Our mortgage is absolutely enormous and DS is at private school (unless he gets into one of the few decent state schools around here - fingers crossed). I can understand your concerns Uwila. How flexible is your mortgage? We're overpaying at the moment and I am hoping to cut back our payments while I'm off.

uwila Mon 07-Mar-05 14:48:13

I am in the UK. I do work for an American company. And, yes they provide the statutory minimum. Until a little over a year ago, they gave 6 months at 90%, so I have missed the boat. If I could stay home for 4-6 months at 90% pay, I would be quite happy with that. But, unfortunately it just isn't on offer.

I realise that I could get another £105/week for the remainder of the SMP, but really £105/week doesn't exactly pay the bills.

A large part of the problem is that I have married a man who can not resist temptation to spend spend spend. And, because of this we have borrowed and begged to the hill and now have a mountain of debt that would not impress you. Afraid my only remaining option would be to steal, and I am of course morally oppposed to that option (though it is tempting). Only joking! Although, in fairness, I should add that I stood by and watched him do it. So I guess I deserve some blame. I even allowed him to persuade me to get loans out in my name when his credit limits ran dry. What a bloody fool I have been.

I guess I just have to do face the facts that I shall be deprived of what I consider to be a reasonable amount of maternity leave.

Also, didn't mean to suggest part time employees are not dedicated. I just specified full time because it is a bigger drop in inclome when it drops to £105/week. Sorry, Elliot. Really didn;t mean to offend you.

Expectantmum Mon 07-Mar-05 15:12:02

Uwila, I too work for an American firm, again I'll only get the statutory requirement of 6 weeks at 90% and then £106 a week or whatever it is? Sorry to make the situation worse, but don't forget that you all have to pay tax on that £100 a week, so we'll probably only end up with about £80 a week. I'm gonna take all my vacation entitlement throughout the course of my leave too which will help, but I just have to hope that I can survive through to June without a break of some sort. I'm gonna really struggle, especially cos we have loads of debt at the moment, but we're trying to save like mad and get our debts down, so that at least if it comes down to it, I can live on my credit cards for the time being and worry about repaying them when I get back to work. I'm hoping to be off for six months, although I might have to come back early if we can't manage. Its a horrible situation to be in and I fully sympathetise with you. (((((((big hug)))))))

chocfreeclary Mon 07-Mar-05 16:14:54

Uwila I took a year off with no 3, the same as you it was 6wks at 90%, the remainder of the first 6 months at £100/week then no money at all for the next 6 months, but at least I was guarnteed my old job back, which was an improvement. I decided to take the time and dig into savings/just generally spend less as I felt I rushed back too quickly after ds1 and dd were born. I’m very glad I did it.
sorry to read about yr money difficulties Uwila. But of course you need to remember that when you're off you spend a lot less (fares, lunch, clothes, coffee machine, nursery fees) and have time to shop around for bargains too.

Noggermum Mon 07-Mar-05 16:41:12

The position isn't great is it? I changed jobs in pregnancy no1 which meant I wasn't even entitled to SMP and the luxury of 6 weeks at 90% pay - at least I get that this time. Took 6 months off with no 1 and will do the same again - fortunate enough that with a bit of belt tightening we can manage. I do however have a friend who was the principle breadwinner and had to take a 10k loan
to tide her over a 5 month absence - she needed 5 months to recover properly from her c section and associated health problems from the birth and a lot longer to recover financially!

uwila Mon 07-Mar-05 16:54:36

I can relate somewhat, Nogger. I was working contract when I had DD. That meant no maternity pay... oh I might have gotten SMP, but that was next to useless. So, I worked part time from for 2 weeks up until the day I was induced, then I took 2 weeks off (as required by law). Then, I worked from home again part time for 2 more weeks. Then, back at work in the office full time. So,I guess I have a lot more than last time... but this plan caused many a dropped jaw and bulging eyes.

Well, thanks everyone for your input. I guess I was right that most people manage much more than I will get. But, on the bright side, if I can make due with 4 weeks, then I guess I have double that this time. It's just a fact of life. Might as well keep my chin up and get on with it.

lisalisa Mon 07-Mar-05 16:55:37

Message withdrawn

tribpot Mon 07-Mar-05 17:13:53

Uwila, I've sent you a CAT about some financial stuff I didn't think appropriate to discuss in the thread, hope that's okay.

I'm interested in this thread as I will have to go back to work at some point ('back' being a bit of a loose term as I have no job just now) but am very keen to have breastfeeding well established by then. Ideally I would like to have six months off but I've been approached about a potential contract where they may only accept me taking four months off. Based on what you've said, elliott, I think this may be too early if I want to keep the baby on 100% breastmilk? I guess it's hard to generalise as everyone is different but I did have a feeling it might be quite tricky to express enough for during the day and the night feeds (since the alternative would be to express at work but then be up for the night feeds myself, ouch!).

To be honest, although it would be nice to have a job in place to go back to, not to mention avoiding having to move house with a small baby to follow a job to another part of the country (as is very likely) I wonder if I should put the baby first and insist on six months off. Financially we can afford it (dh will be a SAHD so have no nursery worries to consider) and already I am gutted at the thought of leaving the baby to go back to work - at all, really!

uwila Mon 07-Mar-05 18:42:33

Trib, I've looked and looked. No CAT from you. But I am interested in whatever it is you have to say (I can take all the advice I can get). I sent you a cat with my work e-mail address in it. Did you get it?

tribpot Mon 07-Mar-05 20:17:25

I can see my attempt to take it off board has been slowed down by the MN CAT process No, no CAT from you either Uwila, this is going splendidly. If you would like to email me instead, I have a hotmail account:

tribunicia_potestas @ hotmail dot com

(spaces and dots to defeat spammers not Mumsnetters!)

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