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Mat Leave- how many take a year?

(115 Posts)
apples82 Wed 16-Feb-11 10:26:56

I'm starting to think about how long to take off for maternity leave, this is my first pregnancy smile...

Alot of the decisions I presume are made financially as to how long you can take off.

But how long does everyone take off?

I know the SMP covers the first six months, do many new mums then go back to work, or stay off for the full year if financially viable?

CaurnieBred Wed 16-Feb-11 10:31:13

I took the full year. This was when you only got Stat Maternity pay for six months so the last six months were def harder for us financially. I'm sure you get longer now than six months though (9 months?).

For me having the year was great. The baby starts to get a lot more interesting over 6 months smile

apples82 Wed 16-Feb-11 10:34:39

Well that's half of what i'm thinking CaurnieBred, I'd like to take the full year, being it's the first little un, and spend as much time with it as I can.

I think our company policy is six months SMP, then next six months is no pay.

I'm just hoping that we can eek out the money so that I can stay off for the year {confused].

Guacamole Wed 16-Feb-11 10:37:47

I'm taking a full year, it's almost over and I'm very sad!
The first 6 months were hard, but as the previous poster said they become so much more fun and interesting after 6 months, I wouldn't have wanted to miss it! Having said that, financially it's been hard, but with major cutting back we've managed (we've even managed not to go into debt, which is excellent).

apples82 Wed 16-Feb-11 10:44:49

Oh well done Guacamole, I may have to be onto you for tips when my time comes!

OompaLumpa Wed 16-Feb-11 10:56:19

CaurnieBred is right i think in that SMP is now for 9 months axCreditsAndOtherSupport/Expectingorbringingupchil dren/DG_10018741 and i believe this is the minimum so regardless as to what your company may offer. Companies can exceed the statutory minimum but cannot go under it. That is my understanding anyway!

I am in the same position as you OP.

boredbuthappy Wed 16-Feb-11 11:00:44

apples82 I'm pretty sure that legally, you're entitled to 39 weeks SMP, that's the legal minimum, unless for some reason you don't qualify (can't think of the reasons right now about why one wouldn't qualify) the first 6 weeks of your maternity leave should be paid at 90% of your normal pay, the rest would be the normal £125-ish a week. Also take into account that normally, you accrue holidays during your leave INCLUDING bank holidays, which you can take at the end of your leave. These should be paid as full pay because technically you are back at work but just on holiday. Of course you don't have to take them all, you can save some for use as proper holiday, but in my case I would be going back very close to the end of our holiday entitlement year and would need to take them all at once. This has meant for me that I will have 35 WORKING days to take as holiday, PAID before I actually return to my desk. That will be a welcome injection of money after months of living on a severely reduced income!

Check out the government websites about it and also talk to your HR department (if you have one) about all of this. I was pleasantly surprised and less worried about money now.

apples82 Wed 16-Feb-11 11:01:44

Ooh I do hope it is 9 months, the link said this though...

^When is SMP paid
Your employer will usually pay you in the same way and at the same time as your normal wages. It can be paid for up to 39 weeks.^

Am I reading this wrong?

apples82 Wed 16-Feb-11 11:02:58

BoredButHappy ah ha, so I can use holiday too, that is good news! I'm bookmarking this thread now, very handy smile

boredbuthappy Wed 16-Feb-11 11:05:01

I think that's referring to the way in which they pay you ie money goes straight into your account or whatever the arrangement is at whatever frequency has existed previuosly. Think of mat leave as still being fully employed, with all your benefits etc, but you jsut don't actually go to work, or get paid the full amount. That's how I was told to look at it.

apples82 Wed 16-Feb-11 11:05:39

I like that outlook grin

ChessyEvans Wed 16-Feb-11 11:17:41

I'm taking the full year and then holiday afterwards so will actually be off for 13 months!! Sounds so lovely when I tell people I won't be back until April 2012! Last few days at work now.

I just decided that I would rather go without than go back to work when the baby is 6 months old (our first baby too). I'm lucky that my DH earns enough that we will survive, although it will be extremely tight!

OompaLumpa Wed 16-Feb-11 11:24:48

I would very much like to take a full year but am worried (a) about money and (b) how this might affect what job i come back to as to say my boss wasn't pleased with my announcement, would be a massive understatement. He has made things difficult for me ever since and am thinking he might not want me back at all and will make my role redundant sad it's sad because it is already stressing me out so much and he is being such a *&(&% so am wondering if i need to come back after 6 months to at least try and protect the job that i have... that or keep buying a lotter ticket hmm

MooMooFarm Wed 16-Feb-11 11:24:57

I took a full year with all of mine - I would have been heartbroken if I'd gone back at six months, it was bad enough after a year! Obviously money was a bit tighter but it was definitely worth it IMO - you don't get that first year back and they change such a lot in that time.

PukeyMummy Wed 16-Feb-11 11:39:25

I took six months with DD a few years back. Worked for an American company, although in the UK, and I was already singling myself out by taking so long off (my boss's opinion).

Six months was about the time my DD started driving me crazy. I was trying to push her into a routine at that time (in readiness for nursery) and she had other ideas, as well as dealing with weaning. I spent many hours in tears of frustration.

Frankly, it was a relief to hand her over to the nursery for 4 days a week at that point. They didn't enforce a routine at all, so it was nice to have that coming from the trained professionals (threw away Gina Ford books). I enjoyed my time with DD much more from then onwards. My career ended in redundancy soon afterwards though.

From what I saw with friends and other babies at nursery, most seemed to take off 9 months.

In hindsight, around the 7-month point would probably have been better, if I could have stuck it out, as the nursery was not accustomed to weaning such a young baby and preparing her purees every day to send in with her was exhausting. At 7 months their food becomes much more normal and you can start using more Plum and Ella's pre-prepared foods.

But it depends on the baby, and the mother. Do what's right for you!

PukeyMummy Wed 16-Feb-11 11:40:42

OompaLumpa I went back after 6 months (see my post) and lost my job 4 months later regardless.

Do what's best for you and your child. Probably best to keep your options open. You can always change your mind once the baby has arrived.

boredbuthappy Wed 16-Feb-11 11:42:25

OompaLumpa I know nothing about your position at work or what you do for a living, but if I was in your shoes, your boss's reaction alone would make me want to find employment elsewhere. I know it's easier said than done, but if you are thinking of sacrificing time with your baby that you're ENTILTLED to and bloody well deserve, because your d*ck of a boss and his attitude, you'd be going back early for all the wrong reasons.

Would you consider looking for new employment and starting fresh somewhere else? Obviously don't tell your boss any of this, carry out your mat leave as normal, but it could mean the difference between coping with working and caring for your baby with support, or not. Just imagine when you do return to work and you need to make adjustments to ensure you can care for your baby, and your boss doesn't care. Not ideal, not when there are many employer out there are willing to work with working mums, not against them.

apples82 Wed 16-Feb-11 11:42:45

Yes i'm a little worried about the work aspect. My due date is Oct 19th, and in November we're having a completely new computer system put in. This means that by the time I come back we'll be straight into the 'peak season' for our industry, and I won't know how to do anything again confused.

I just wanna spend as much time off with the newbie.

inbetweener Wed 16-Feb-11 11:47:42

I work for the NHS and will be taking 34 weeks off at half pay plus SMP which is actually not bad at all ! Its 8 and a half months, and I am also adding my full years holiday entitlement onto the end of it so will get 10 months off paid with little one ! I am thrilled.
Considering I only got 4 months off first time round 8 years ago I was delighted to find out how much had changed grin

apples82 Wed 16-Feb-11 11:53:12

Is the 9 months SMP legal, or just the maximum?

I'm sure our company's policy is 6 months SMP, is the 9 months a legal thing or just the max?

boredbuthappy Wed 16-Feb-11 11:58:23

It's legal. Look here: nefitsTaxCreditsAndOtherSupport/Expectingorbringin gupchildren/DG_10018741

It will tell you what qualifies you for SMP.

spaceal Wed 16-Feb-11 12:01:55

I'm taking the full year, and with holidays etc included just 5 weeks will be unpaid. My employer (a university) actually pays full pay for the first 18 weeks, which is nice of them smile It is going to be tough financially but I'm hoping it's going to be fab. I just started this Monday and am due March 3rd with our first.

Bumpsadaisie Wed 16-Feb-11 12:03:03

I'm hoping to stay off for a year with no.2 (got BFP yesterday!!)

Went back after 7 months with DD. Which was too soon for me but was very lucky that she went to grandmas who she knew already very well.

One thing to think about when making the decision is that at 6/7 months I think that, in general, they are probably in a better place to adapt to new childcare arrangements etc. By 12/13 months they can be much more picky about who they are with and some have full blown clinginess/separation anxiety.

All children are different but I think if you are going to go back when the baby is 12/13 months, you may well have to plan a long run up "practice period" where the child gets properly used to his/hew new chilcare.

apples82 Wed 16-Feb-11 12:03:27


CAS77 Wed 16-Feb-11 12:11:30

Hi apples82,

FWIW I'm an employment lawyer and can 100% confirm you are legally entitled to 9 months SMP! A while ago it used to be only 6 months SMP and it may be that your employer has failed to update its maternity policy to reflect the current law. However, that doesn't mean they can get away with paying only 6 months SMP - they still have to comply with the law and they need to update their policy too!

Hope that helps.

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