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"Women have got greedy with maternity leave"

(224 Posts)
Bleh Mon 19-Oct-09 11:45:20

What do you guys think?
I do kind of feel sorry for male friends, because they don't really have as much of a choice as women do when it comes to leave after having children, as men are only allowed up to two weeks, whereas women can be away for a year. It's really imbalanced. Also, this is a very difficult law for small businesses to fulfill, and discourages them from hiring women of a child-bearing age.

If I was in charge, I would make it so that you can choose to use some of your NI contributions to take extra maternity leave (rather than the employer footing the whole bill), and would have the government give more financial support/tax breaks to small companies that need the assistance.

mspotatochip Mon 19-Oct-09 11:49:17

Women breastfeed babies = women need leave

ProfessorLaytonIsMyZombieSlave Mon 19-Oct-09 11:50:02

The government does pay the employer back for the SMP element, though, doesn't it? So the employer doesn't foot the whole bill. And the "away for a year" isn't all paid anyway. I used some of our savings to be off for a year last time (employer (a chuffing huuuuuuuuuuge business FWIW) only pays SMP, and nothing at all paid after 9 months).

I do think there should be more provision for leave being sharable between parents, though.

MummyDoIt Mon 19-Oct-09 11:51:51

I'd like to see 'parental leave' where either parent could take it. If mum wants to go back to work when the baby is six weeks old, why can't Dad take the additional time off?

theyoungvisiter Mon 19-Oct-09 11:54:32

Yes, those greedy mothers, wanting to breastfeed their babies and spend time raising them! Tcha.

But I do think there should be an element of parental leave, it's the only thing that will stop companies discriminating against women.

As an aside, how does the employer foot the whole bill? Surely the government pays maternity leave?

chibi Mon 19-Oct-09 12:06:41

i would be interested to know what proportion of employers pay over and above smp - it is all i get as a teacher, and like prof layton i had to use savings last time (and will again this time) to cover my mat leave from 9 months --> a year.

chibi Mon 19-Oct-09 12:08:42

there is certainly a perception that mat leave income is v generous, i.e that you get your full salary for the duration.

at least, this is what my work colleagues/family think.

BobbingForPeachys Mon 19-Oct-09 12:09:16

I do think dads (or co-parents) should be able to share leave.

I ahd my first two in the days when ML was 12 weeks,and with enforced timeoff pre baby ahd toreturn to work at 9 weeks; it broke my heart at the time and certainly contributed to them not being BF.

My other two children were after the rule change, and were both BF (one exclusive, one mixed) to 16 months + and I do think my bonding was better becuase I didn't have that dreasd of returning to work hanging over me (I accept that won't be the same for all).

None of my family or close friends could afford to take ML beyond the time where you receive pay. So a year isn't universal in any real terms.

theyoungvisiter Mon 19-Oct-09 12:09:46

also, any employer element tends to be at the beginning of the period, doesn't it? I mean, it usually involves an extension of the 90% period of salary, or bumps it up to 100% for a few weeks.

So the employer contribution isn't usually related to the amount of time the woman can take off, it usually occurs in the first few weeks.

BobbingForPeachys Mon 19-Oct-09 12:12:05

If there is an employer contribution: never worked for anywhere making one myself.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Mon 19-Oct-09 12:12:36

I this argument is really problematic. Of course it is expensive (and TYV AFAIK the govt only pays SMP: not the cost of any additional pay, and no cost for recruiting and employing replacement staff - so it is expensive)

But that's as it should be: it should be considered a normal operating cost of a business. If we going to have working women, we need maternity leave.

Children are a social good. I hate the prevailing notion that the decision to have children is merely a selfish, individualist act. They don't only consume: they also, eventually, produce.

theyoungvisiter Mon 19-Oct-09 12:12:47

I also think that people who argue that shorter mat leave is good for business tend to forget the cost and difficulty in recruiting maternity cover.

You have to pay a huge premium to get people for a 6 month contract, and often they difficult to recruit and not fully qualified. Added to which, people usually leave a few weeks before the cover expires in order to start a new job.

A year contract is much more attractive to potential employees and doesn't require such a high premium on top of the basic salary, and a year gives the employee much longer to find a permanent position that meshes with the cover, so less risk of them leaving halfway through.

theyoungvisiter Mon 19-Oct-09 12:19:12

x-posted with you vulpasina.

Does the government not pay the 90% period then? I thought they did and it was only additional, discretionary payments that the business footed? (Not an expert so happy to be told otherwise)

poorbuthappy Mon 19-Oct-09 12:20:25

A lot of companies do not pay more than SMP, you only have to search on here to find threads where 99% of the posters have nothing more than SMP.

I recruited my mat leave cover, trained them up and still did my job. And they were paying them less than they were paying me...All smp was claimed back from the government, so basically for 6 months the company saved themselves money...don't get me wrong it is disruptive up to a point...but its not quite how a lot of employers rant on about it...

Ronaldinhio Mon 19-Oct-09 12:21:02

I had 90pc pay for three months but only smp after that
I had to return to work as a business essential hmm and to be honest worked during the 3 mths also

I know now that I went back too soon and I wish I had enjoyed this time off with my dds.

I run a large business unit and mat isn't so bad for us as employers but we make a huge fuss over it as though people are having a paid sabbatical to travel or watch Jeremy Kyle.
If the business world were run by more women then an emphasis would be placed upon what is right fro the family and individual worker. There needs to be more flexibility and support but we all know that!!

ImSoNotTelling Mon 19-Oct-09 12:26:53

Small businesses get SMP back plus some extra on top.

"The Government compensates employers for making SMP payments.

* Small businesses can claim back more SMP than they pay out.

You can claim 104.5 per cent if you are a small enterprise with total NI payments (employer's and employees' combined) of less than £45,000 a year.
* Larger employers can reclaim 92 per cent of the gross SMP paid." from here

There is a big problem with perception - many people think mat leave is "a year off" on full pay, and that the emloyer foots the bill. All incorrect. Yes some employers enhance pay but it's usually linked into returning to work with them - so it's for their benefit as much as the employee. Personally I have had two lots of SMP - one from a very large wealthy employer who operated sexist policies in general (largesse for anyhting for men, tight fisted for women things) and one small company.

I agree thought that it would be good to have more leave for men/ability to share leave between partners etc. 2 weeks is not enough to get to know your new baby and is often not adequate to support the mother. Bare minimum of 6 weeks (covering standard c-section recovery/usual glued to sofa first BF time/general time to adjust to the new situation) would be a lot better. I would probably say yes to 11 months off overall if it meant DH could have 6 weeks off at the beginning ie give him a month of my time.

Another option would be good if unpaid sabatticals were more available, so men could take time to care for children. So eg I could go back to work and DH could stop for a time unpaid to look after the kids, without losing his job.

ProfessorLaytonIsMyZombieSlave Mon 19-Oct-09 12:27:03

Also, Vulpus, presumably the cost of recruiting and employing (thinking of the additional cost of employing: they would have been paying the original employee to do the job if she weren't on ML, and instead they are paying her SMP which is reimbursed by the government, which frees up the amount they would have paid her to spend on employing cover so it's only really costs over and above that that are relevant) replacement staff doesn't differ hugely whether maternity leave is six months or a year?

I do have a recurring fantasy in which the childfree who moan about help / benefits / flexibility for "breeders" wind up having to live out their old age without being able to call directly or indirectly on the services of medical staff, plumbers, electricians, power plant workers, road repair people, farmers, food manufacturers, refuse collectors (etc., etc., etc.) who were "bred" by their own contemporaries.

(I have absolutely nothing against the childfree by choice; I think it's an extremely sensible lifestyle decision for many. I do take issue with the whingers)

RainRainGoAway Mon 19-Oct-09 12:27:10

Totally agree. As someone who has to employ an assistant to do my job the 2 days a week I work I have been totally shafted by my assistants pregnancy to the point I have had to stop working myself.
The problem is, I have to keep her post open, which means hiring a temp indefinitely. They cost twice as much and without the guarentee of good quality work. Because of this, I earn £5 less an hour which means it is now not worth me working. Really gutted as loved my job but I ended up losing money. I love being with my DCs and purely worked to contribute to the household finances, but after my assistant went on maternity leave it wasn't financially viable anymore. sad

I hate to say it, but I would now think twice about hiring someone of childbearing age becuase of this and can understand why someone wouldn't hire me in return. Not all businesses are large companies who can absorb the costs of these maternity arrangements.

ImSoNotTelling Mon 19-Oct-09 12:28:47

SMP 90% is first 6 weeks.

Bleh Mon 19-Oct-09 12:35:49

Ronaldinhio - I don't necessarily agree that if more businesses were run by women, they would be more open to flexible working arrangements etc. Both of my managers are women and mothers, however, when we asked them to consider the possibility that at times everyone in our team should be able to ask for more flexible working arrangements (such as working from home, different starting hours) the two of them nearly had a coronary and shouted us down. Apparently, people don't work when they work from home hmm, or at least, they can't, so nobody else can. Also, both have house-husbands so are completely ignorant of the fact that if both parents work, it can be very difficult to cover ill children, take them to and from school etc. etc.

ProfessorLaytonIsMyZombieSlave Mon 19-Oct-09 12:58:49

There are certain things that are held as important in employment. You can't (to take an extreme example) make people work 15-hour days crawling under operating machinery while you crack a whip at them, and anyone who complained that not being able to do that was an unfair burden on his/her business and made it not financially viable would be laughed out of sight. Maintaining safety and dignity and complying with working time regulations is seen as part of the necessary fabric of business and a business that can't afford to do those things just isn't financially viable in the first place.

We're at a point as a society where we're trying to decide whether maternity/paternity rights are part of that necessary fabric of business or just a nice-to-have add-on, like providing a water cooler or a free basket of fruit in the office, that it should be perfectly OK to cut for financial reasons or consider an unjustifiable burden if they were made compulsory.

RainRain (don't want to sound as though I'm picking on you, but you'd just posted when I started typing this monster post), is there a reason that you had to hire a temp "indefinitely"? Your employee has to tell you her expected date of return (or if she doesn't specify one you can write to her assuming she's taking a year) and give you 8 weeks' notice of changing that, so is there a particular reason you can't hire someone for a definite term the length of the currently-agreed ML rather than hire an agency temp? I don't know your business but, with the economy as it is, just among my acquaintance I can think of experienced and qualified people across a range of fields who would bite the hand off someone offering them a 6-12 month contract.

And if you weren't making more than £5/hour profit on your business as it was (which is presumably the case if you lose money when temporarily paying £5/hour more) then it probably wasn't worth your while working in the first place before your assistant went on ML, from the simplistic point of view of contributing to household finances (and I appreciate that that sets aside questions of job satisfaction). £5/hour is less than national minimum wage, after all.

RainRainGoAway Mon 19-Oct-09 13:07:09

Professor - it was because I had to pay a huge amount to the agency just to get the temp in the first place so it worked out over time to really cut the amount I earned. Then the person I paid was on £8 an hour for 4 hours work. The agency charged £12 an hour. I only work 2 'long mornings' a week (ie, leave house at 7.45, back at 2) and am paid £40 an hour. But then there is childcare which is £40 for the day (as they have to charge a whole day).
In the end it just didn't seem worth it. Probably not got the sums right there, but the hassle was too much and many assistants in this field will stay longer, but still have to pay the agency etc.

ninedragons Mon 19-Oct-09 13:13:01

It's the same as having an employee go on jury service (which can, obviously, last much longer than maternity leave).

Society foots the bill for a necessary function.

DuelingFANGo Mon 19-Oct-09 13:14:43

Woman can be away for a year but they can't get full pay for a year. Many women don't take a year, some don't even take 6 months.

I think it is quite a luxury to be able to afford to be away for a year but then i am guessing many people struggle financially to do this.

I think men should get longer though.

RainRainGoAway Mon 19-Oct-09 13:19:09

I should also add, I have to pay £350 a year to insure myself for this job, and also ove £400 to register as well. So it was probably not worth working in the first place, but wanted to 'keep my hand in'. But after the additional costs I realised it really wasn't worth it.
Huge shame as I am quite a strident feminist in most ways (I do what would be considered an incredibly 'masculine' job!) but when the practicalities hit it has coloured my view somewhat. Many of my collegues admit they would hesitate to hire me as I have 2 young DCs and am considering having more so there would be enormous disruption to the workplace. So I have been a 'victim' of this so can see it from both sides.

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