Eight things you need to know about maternity leave
Earlier this year the rules regarding maternity leave and pay for parents changed, after years of campaigning from the Liberal Democrats. The fact that they were sharing power at the time probably shows how long ago it seems if one is feeling churlish, but the new rules – which are designed to give fathers more rights – have been largely accepted.
This great guide on maternity leave will give you some in-depth details, and in addition here are eight things you need to know:
Tell your bosses at least 15 weeks before the due date that you are pregnant, and the date you wish to start maternity leave. This may change – babies have a way of sometimes arriving early – but the earlier you let your manager know your predicted exit date, the better. Similarly…
Speak to your bosses
Jillian Murphy of PwC left to have a baby in 2013, and returned to her office to a promotion. Speaking to the Financial Times, Ms Murphy said that her temporary exit was planned with her manager and benefited from her willingness to be flexible around hours.
Your rights are protected
Not being physically present in the office does not preclude you from being the treated as those who remain. You are still entitled to any company pay rises and the build-up of holiday – and you have the right to return.
Amount of leave
You’re entitled to 52 weeks’ maternity leave, built of two halves. The first 26 weeks constitutes ordinary maternity leave, the second slice is additional maternity leave. Up to 11 of those weeks can be taken before the week of childbirth.
Statutory maternity pay (SMP)
You will receive statutory maternity pay for up to 39 of those 52 weeks, which equates to 90% of your earnings for six weeks followed by £139.58 or 90% of your earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33. SMP starts automatically from your leave date, even if that is due to a pregnancy-related illness in the four weeks before due date.
Shared Parental Leave (SPL)
SPL represents an avenue for fathers to take time off work to care for their children. From April 2015, if eligible, fathers could share a portion of the maternity leave spell, either in one block or multiples. It’s worth researching this well in advance as it can be beneficial in giving the father more of a hands-on role.
SMP can represent quite a drop in salary for some mums, so find out if you are eligible for additional benefits such as Universal Credit (which has replaced child tax credit, working tax credit and income support in some parts of the country). Your company may also have its own maternity scheme, which must at least match the statutory amount.
It will fly by…
…so plan your return to work. Towards the end of your spell of maternity leave plan a meeting with your boss, and find ways to make the transition back to working life a smooth one. If you don’t intend to return, inform your seniors early so they can plan to find your replacement. If a return to full-time work is not viable, work to see if a part-time solution can be found.
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