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Can your employer tell you when to take maternity leave? Or hint at when you should?

(11 Posts)
Kingsroadie Tue 16-Jun-09 16:47:38

Hi all - I know there's a thread on when people stopped work but this is slightly different so thought I'd start my own post:

Can your employers tell you when you can/can't go on mat leave? Do you have to "work with them" or can you just inform them?

I only ask as my managers (2), in a completely unrelated meeting with me the other day, started going on about how one of them worked until 39+ weeks etc (she IS the MD of the company though!) and how, if I feel fine etc (and they reminded me how I seemed fine and have had no morning sickness etc) there's no reason not to keep working and "we'll see how it goes". WILL WE? I thought I was the one entitled to decide when I go on mat leave...

I want to leave around 32 1/2 weeks. Because a) my mother had both babies 2/3 weeks early and the same could happen but mainly b) I work in property so have a semi-office job but also running around and c) I want to leave then. I want some time to sort everything out and sleep and see friends etc.

PS. At the moment they haven't even asked my due date and we haven't had any sort of meeting (apart from me asking for one to tell them I was pregnant which took all of 5 mintues). So, having looking on the gov website, I know I have to tell them by 15 weeks prior to due date when the baby is due and when I want to start mat leave. Looks like I will have to do this as I don't expect to have "the meeting" before then, albeit that they acknowledge we "need to have a meeting"...

Sorry for rant but was a bit put out. 16 weeks with 1st baby btw. Thanks in advance for help! smile

bohemianbint Tue 16-Jun-09 16:50:20

Pretty sure it's your decision! you need to see how you feel at the time, I went earlier than I thought because the commute was doing my head in...

BakewellTarts Tue 16-Jun-09 16:53:43

I think its mostly your decision. I think if you are sick and signed off work then your employer can insist you start maternity leave at 35 weeks but that is the only exception.

I'd probably start talking to them now though to "manage" their expectations.

lastboxoftampons Tue 16-Jun-09 16:54:26

They can't tell you when you should plan on going on mat leave, BUT if you have any pregnancy related illness in the run up they can actually make you go out early. Sounds like they're trying to pressure you into staying until the bitter end. It's completely up to you if you're within the guidelines set out by the government. Do you have an HR department? If so, I would have a meeting with them. My boss kept asking how long I'd be out for, but when I spoke with HR I was told they were meant to assume that I would be taking the full year unless I informed them otherwise.

good luck!

PavlovtheForgetfulCat Tue 16-Jun-09 17:00:02

They can tell you when they want you to take your maternity leave, but you do not have to listen!

You decide when you take your maternity leave. As you are planning on leaving for maternity leave prior to the 4 weeks immediately before your EDD, being required to take mat leave due to sickness does not apply. You can take maternity leave whenever you want up to 15 weeks before your EDD.

It is completely your choice. If you plan to take any annual leave prior to maternity leave starting they can dictate when that is taken, but not the ML itself.

lynniep Tue 16-Jun-09 17:09:08

I believe its your decision. Completely. Although agree with above posts, they can ask you to leave early for health and safety reasons, they can't ask you to work longer as long as you

a) give you notice on before the 15th week
b) If you want Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) - see below) you must give at least 28 days notice of the date you wants to start SMP + MAT B1 form.

see although I think you've already read that stuff by the sounds of it.

It doesnt matter what your reasons are - if you need the time to chill, sort things out etc thats entirely up to you. You can leave up to 11 weeks before you're due I believe.

I didnt, because I couldnt afford to, but had I had the choice I would definately had gone on leave before week 38.

Its unfair of your boss to put pressure on you - but shes probably trying to 'subtly' (!) let you know she'd like you to work as long as possible. It may or may not help working relations to compromise, but as stated by everyone else, that doesnt alter the fact that it is your decision, not hers.

Kingsroadie Tue 16-Jun-09 17:45:42

Thanks a lot guys - you have confirmed what I thought! Obv if I can help them out I will try.

lastboxoftampons - no HR dept sadly - we are a very small company. It would be a hell of a lot easier if there were it is I have to deal with the big bosses which takes the objectivity out of it a bit!

I really don't like making a fuss etc and am not the sort of person who will intentionally piss people off but it sounds like they wil be less than happy with my decision - when I eventually tell them - but I will just have to try and ignore them and do what's best for me. Just need to make sure I do everything by the book re notice etc (and as an ex-lawyer I will make sure I do!)

Thanks everyone.

Nekabu Tue 16-Jun-09 18:09:09

A lot of people do want to work up until the last moment so they can spend their maternity leave with their baby, so it's not that unreasonable for your boss to assume you'll be the same especially as you've been fine so far, haven't said otherwise and she worked up until the last minute and so knows how it can work. If you want to leave earlier I'd let them know your plans as it could be they are assuming in all innocence that you will want most of your ML with your baby but will have no problem with you leaving earlier if you prefer. The whole 'see how it goes' could have been a reiteration of this flexibility.

Kingsroadie Wed 17-Jun-09 10:38:00

I see what you're saying Nekabu - perhaps I should just assume that they were assuming I would want to work as late as possible in all innocence. I just felt a bit bullied in the meeting as I don't think it was handled very well tbh, but I see your point and me feeling a bit villified isn't going to be productive in any event. I do want to tell them about my plans but the MD keeps saying "we need a meeting but there's plenty of time yet" etc. I will ask for one soon though as do I want to give them as much notice as possible.

Also, as an aside, her job is a lot more desk-based than mine, so arguably easier to work later in pregnancy.

Thanks to everyone for advice!

Nekabu Wed 17-Jun-09 11:05:23

Can you drop them an email? One to them all just saying in a friendly way that you know everyone's pretty busy and finding time for a meeting seems to be a bit tricky so you're just wanting to let them know in plenty of time that your plans are to leave at 32 1/2 weeks. If you let them know now then that's that sorted. I'm sure they just think you're going to be working up to as late as you can because it's quite common though and that there won't be any issue with you leaving when you like. Good luck!

Kingsroadie Wed 17-Jun-09 16:07:51

Yes good idea - I will do that! Thanks...

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