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maternity leave

(26 Posts)
lauraellajane Wed 31-Oct-12 17:55:53

Hi everyone,

How long did you take for maternity leave, or are planning to take if this is your first?

I've just checked out my work's policy and it's first 18 weeks on full pay (as they top up the SMP), then weeks 19-39 works out for me as half pay which not sure I can afford.

Under 18 weeks old seems so young though and had always pictured at least starting to wean the baby before going back to worksad

So just wondered what your experiences were and when were you comfortable leaving your baby? (I know it's never going to be comfortable but you know what I mean)

Thanks smile

carrielou2007 Wed 31-Oct-12 18:26:54

Dd was 5 months, ds was 7/8 months by company only pay the minimum 90% for first 6 weeks then SMP until 39 weeks. Would live to have had more time off but coukdn't afford to. I am part time now though and being a single patent I get a small amount of tax credits to pay a little towards my huge child are bill - don't want to think about that bill when I go back to work after this one!!

Get saving now girl grin

lauraellajane Wed 31-Oct-12 18:37:09

Would love to start saving but it doesn't make financial sense to until we've finished paying off debt!

kellestar Wed 31-Oct-12 18:41:14

I did take the full year, I huffed and hawed about it for a while.

The policy was 4 months on full pay, 4-9 months reducing down to SMP, 9-12 months SMP. I really kept a tight hold on my finances so though things were tight, it wasn't uncomfortable.

I had the opportunity to return on reduced hours, but my portfolio content would stay the same and to keep on top of my portfolio would mean doing extra hours [was already doing lots of extra hours before ML] so expectation would be the contract would be for less hours, but in reality doing the same hours, less benefits, holiday and pay. [extra hours were taken as TOIL].

A close friend has returned to work 3 days a week when her DD was 7 months old. She's with a family friend one day, her husband another day and her mum the last day. She finds it hard and stressful leaving her DD with so many people, in hindsight, she wishes she'd just asked one person to do the childcare, as it's the repurcussions of them not following her wishes. She does pay her family friend and mum. She still has a few ishoos, but generally they seem to be settling in quite well.

I've had quite a few friends go back to work at varying stages, quite a few who were determined pre-baby to go back ASAP stayed off the longest.

How much notice do you need to give to return to work, I think it's officially 30 days, but I know colleagues who have made their decision and been back behind a desk in two weeks.

See how you feel at the time, you may find that 4 months on full pay and 2 months on half works for you, give your notice when you feel ready. You can use KIT days to see how it feels.

NumptyDumty Wed 31-Oct-12 18:50:07

I changed my job and so wasn't entiitled to SMP just MA, I arranged to go back at 18 weeks thinking money would be far to tight but it isn't and I have extended till feb so he will be 8 months.

It's amazing how money can strech when you budget.

Depending on your company you can always extend it if you wish but it is a lot harder to shorten it.

Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy and enjoy your newborn smile

GoldPlatedNineDoors Wed 31-Oct-12 18:54:14

My work paid only statutory so 6wks at 90% then up to 39wks was £128pwk. And I was the main earner.

I took two weeks off before dd was born, and went back when she was 8.5mo. I found it not as difficult financially as I envisaged (and dh only earns £14k so we were taking a real hit). I saved a ton just by not having to put fuel in my car for work! I swapped Asda/Tesco for Aldi, and as I had more time, shopped at greengrocers for fruit and veg which are so so cheap.

Also, you barely go out in the evning once a baby comes along grin

Dandelion75 Wed 31-Oct-12 19:16:11

18 weeks full pay then up to 39 half pay seems like brilliant maternity conditions. I get 6 weeks 90% pay then another 20 weeks half pay, then SMP. Regardless I'm planning to be off for 10 months (expecting DC1). I still accrue all my annual leave and bank holidays while I am off, so will take the last month off using leave and bank holiday days, which will give me a month of full pay before going back. Should only have about 11 weeks of SMP only, and we've been saving so should be fine. Worth thinking about how much leave you can use to soften the blow...!

MsInterpret Wed 31-Oct-12 19:27:20

Isn't your half pay supplemented by SMP as well? Or are they 'topping up' your SMP to make 50% salary as well?

ivanapoo Wed 31-Oct-12 19:40:04

I agree you have a great package there and hopefully with a bit of saving you can take some more time off. Even if you pay debts off rather than save it still means your outgoings will be less. Everyone tells me maternity leave doesn't need to be expensive either.

I've been very frugal during conception/ pregnancy and have managed to save the equivalent of three months pay after tax since the start of the year. We have begged and borrowed (not stolen!) baby stuff and maternity clothes or picked up bargains at NCT sales.

Hopefully this money alongside SMP and child benefit will get us through as DH's salary will be swallowed up by mortgage & bills. Between us we're planning to take the full year off.

lauraellajane Wed 31-Oct-12 20:59:12

It is SMP for the last bit, it's just that SMP roughly equates to half my salary

Your stories are helping me get my head round it, thank you!

Secondsop Wed 31-Oct-12 21:45:12

I get 26 weeks full pay, then 13 weeks statutory, then 13 weeks unpaid. I'm the main earner. i will obviously take the 26 weeks full pay and I'd ideally like to go up to about 9 months (possibly using annual leave for some of it, plus I'm hoping I'll be able to save a fair amount of the first 26 weeks pay by not having the daily costs of going out to work).

I know I'm in a very fortunate position, with excellent maternity provision. I'm not sure I would take a full year, though, as I'm concerned that it's just a bit too long for my particular job and that I would end up feeling very disengaged and would lose my confidence. Much also depends on whether I get pregnant again - if I do, I'd want to go back to work for a decent spell between the pregnancies.

When I do go back, I think childcare will be a combination of my husband (who works from home freelance), my mum, and one or possibly 2 nursery days a week (I'd like the child to experience the social aspects of nursery). Whilst I can completely understand not wanting to leave a child with loads of people, I personally am not entirely convinced that leaving them with only one person necessarily does them many favours in terms of socialisation and getting used to different people, but I appreciate every child is different on this front.

ItsMyLastOne Wed 31-Oct-12 22:00:59

With DD1 I started mat leave at 39+5. I used my KIT days to go in once a month to my day job, and continued to do once or twice a month after maternity pay stopped. This is because I do book keeping and I can get a month's work done in a day if I really want to! I also had an evening/weekend job which I finished at 27 weeks as it's very physical and I had terrible SPD. I started that again when DD was about a year, but only doing 2-3 shifts a week.

This time I will be finishing book keeping for the foreseeable future on Saturday when I'll be 35+5. I finished my evening job at 32+4. I would have continued in that job for longer but I had a fall at work and my boss basically told me he didn't want anything to happen to me or my baby due to working there so is refusing to let me go in unless it's just for a cup of tea! grin

We are fortunate that DP pays all the bills out of his wages and I have just adjusted to a lower wage over the last couple of years. I can't afford to do the things I used to or to buy the things I used to be able to buy, but I also don't have much desire to tbh. Our combined income is about £30k so we still have two cars, go on holiday each year, we can afford things for the house etc etc. I would much rather have my girls and less money than to have the money many of my friends have!

ItsMyLastOne Wed 31-Oct-12 22:02:47

Oh I meant to say, we have worked my jobs so that I can have my mum, sister or MIL doing the childcare, or when DP is at home in the evenings, which means we don't have any childcare costs at all.

ChicMama25 Wed 31-Oct-12 22:04:49

Wow... Two cars and a holiday and money for the house on 30k?!! Where do u live if u don't mind me asking (I live in London so yeah)

halloweeneyqueeney Wed 31-Oct-12 22:05:50

like one of the other posters, most people who were definitely doing X or Y, ended up doing the opposite, those who said they couldn't afford to stay off ended up making it work and staying off, then ones like me who were going to take the full amt went back early (20 weeks for me)

its so difficult to understand how it'll be/work in advance

Phineyj Wed 31-Oct-12 22:13:12

I'm a teacher so I'm going to take 9 months as that means I can go back at the beginning of the school year - if I took the full 12 months it would mean I picked my classes up after one term which wouldn't be good for them or me. I have also been advised that a September start should make it easier to get a nursery place (you have to start looking a year in advance where I live).

ItsMyLastOne Thu 01-Nov-12 10:04:53

Chic I live in Birmingham <totally outs self>. Our mortgage is £575 per month so that leaves plenty for all the other bills, food, fuel etc etc. We are more careful than we used to be, we buy things second hand or on the best offer possible and save up as much as we can afford. We know we're entitled to plenty of benefits but only claim child benefit, so we could theoretically have a better lifestyle if we did claim everything.

Treats Thu 01-Nov-12 10:10:13

lauraellajane - have you thought about childcare when you return to work? I thought I'd struggle on mat pay last time round (just statutory, so a lot less than you!) but the real financial hardship came when I went back to work (after 6 months) and had to pay DD's nursery fees.

This time round, I'm staying on mat leave for the whole 39 weeks, as I'll be better off at home on SMP than I would be back at work paying for two lots of childcare and my travel.

lauraellajane Thu 01-Nov-12 22:24:07

Childcare is probably my top worry Treats! My MIL has always been desperate for grandchildren and has always said not to worry as she'd help us out loads, so I'm hoping she will remember that when we tell them thre news!

Scan date came through today (19th Nov) so I think when we can tell parents and gage how much they might be willing to help us out I will feel a lot better about it all.

There are a few bits and pieces that have come to mind over the last couple of days which are making me worry less too - such as forogt I will accrue holiday while on mat leave which will allow for a bit of extra time with the bean, plus think my ewrk would be okay if I proposed doing compressed hours when I return - so could perhaps do 30 hrs over 4 days which wouldn't be hard and would only mean losing 5hrs pay a week.

It will all work out!

Thanks so much again for all your reassurances, you are all FAB smile

FriendofDorothy Sat 03-Nov-12 22:05:41

I dream of some of these maternity packages! I get 20 weeks full pay and the option to take 10 weeks unpaid. No stat mat pay to speak of.

I have to go back to work as we have a gigantic mortgage to pay. It's hard but it's just how it is.

GrandPoohBah Sat 03-Nov-12 22:12:30

I get nothing but statutory - 90% of pay for 6 weeks, SMP for 33. We've been saving so we're hoping that with some lifestyle adjustments we'll be able to afford for me to take the full year off. I'm lucky in that DH's salary covers all our outgoings; anything I bring in extra is 'frittering' money (and we do!).

NewNames Sat 03-Nov-12 22:19:55

You get great maternity leave pay! Where do you work?!

carrielou2007 Sat 03-Nov-12 22:26:26

What benefits do you think you are entitled to but don't claim? Tax credits (I can never remember which is which) one is for a very low salary think it is about £16/17k and the other is if you have children with disability and towards child are costs? I think the cutoff is £26k for one child with no disability?

FrightRunScream Sun 04-Nov-12 05:42:10

With DS I took 9 months + "banked leave" that I had been saving for 5 years (we no longer do this scheme at work) which made it 52 weeks. First 18 on full pay then SMP until banked leave kicked it.

This time I have taken every day of mat leave I could, including 13 unpaid Additional ML, and am now using accrued annual leave and KIT days. This will give me 15 months off!

IME - on ml I find my costs go down massively. It's childcare when you return to work that's the killer!

mysterymeg Sun 04-Nov-12 06:52:51

That does sound like a great package. I've only just found out I'm pregnant so nothing is set in stone yet. I only get smp but earn nearly twice what the hubby earns.

Our plan has always been for me to take 4-5 months off then go back full time. Hubby will then be a sahd.

I know it's still quite unusual but my earning potential is much greater and hubby is just more suited to the sah life.

If the maternity pay was like yours I think I'd take longer. On the other hand I'm going to be leaving my child before 18 weeks to go back to work. Although thinking about it like that makes me seem horrible confused

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