Monday, 3 August 2015

Baby on board

So, you have baby on board, what does that mean in terms of finances? You are entitled to have up to a year off for maternity leave , can you afford that?  Or , do you not have to worry as your company has a generous maternity leave scheme? How long will you take off for maternity leave? What is adequate? How long will your partner take? So many questions!

Statutory maternity leave, means that all women who are employed can take up to 1 year off for maternity leave; a combination of 26 weeks ordinary maternity leave, plus 26 weeks additional maternity leave. 

There is also compulsory maternity leave, which is 2 weeks, which you must’s compulsory! Since, April 2015, parents can now share the 12 months of leave following the birth of their child. As MrL reminds me all the time, this isn’t exactly a new concept in Sweden. Mothers can now take their compulsory 2 weeks, and transfer the rest to their partner, or you could split the time equally, or you could both be home with your child at the same time, it’s your choice.

Here are some facts from around the world:

  • The USA, has no paid parental leave, furthermore they can only take a maximum of 12 weeks unpaid leave following the birth of their child
  • In South Africa, fathers only receive 3 days parental leave
  • In Germany, parents can take up to 14 months of leave at 65% of their salary
  • In Sweden, you can receive up to 480 days of leave, and 390 days of that leave will be on 80% of your salary

Having read various sites and maternity pay and leave on the GOV.UK site, I learnt about statutory maternity leave (up to 1 year off); statutory maternity pay (£139.58);  the fact that I can continue to receive my full salary when I attend antenatal appointments and classes, as well as calculating my maternity pay and entitlements online.
What I was really pleased to learn, was that my employment rights are protected, when I take maternity leave, meaning I could be entitled to pay rise (if that took place), I would accrue annual leave and holiday, and last but not least, I could actually go back to work if I wanted to.
At the moment, I am of the mindset that I will work up to my due date (we are notoriously late arrivals in my family), but if I wanted to, the earliest I could leave the daily grind is 11 weeks before the week my baby is due. If my baby is early, my leave would begin the day after, and then I could spend the time that I choose with my baby, giving my employer 8 weeks notice if my return to work date changes; highly unlikely for me, but you never know.

Now, onto the bit that requires planning, the pay. You are entitled to statutory maternity pay for up to 39 weeks, which is 90% of your average weekly earnings before tax, plus £139.58 every week for the remaining 33 weeks. These payments will have NI and tax deducted, so some planning will be required, and this may be one of the factors that dictates your maternity leave length. I have been advised to top up my maternity leave with holiday that has been accrued whilst I am on leave and also to remember the 10 keeping in touch days. As much as my team would most probably like for me not to keep in touch, I will be using those 10 days and daren’t go over, as this would stop any payments that I would be in receipt of.

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