As wonderful and exciting as pregnancy can be, many pregnant women feel nervous at the thought of going on maternity leave.
Here’s a breakdown of what soon-to-be mums need to plan for before baby arrives to make their maternity leave as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
How does it work?
When you are employed by a company, you are entitled to up to one year off work for maternity leave. This doesn’t change depending on how long you’ve been with the company, the number of hours you work or your earnings.
This is broken down into 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave and 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave. When combined this is known as Statutory Maternity Leave or SML.
Depending on how long you take to recover and several other factors, you can take anything from two weeks to a year out of work on maternity leave. Maternity leave can begin as early as 11 weeks before your due date.
Consider your home environment and other commitments that you will now have with baby before deciding on how long you would like to take out of work. This could change once your baby is born, which is completely fine so long as you keep your employer informed.
How do I receive maternity pay?
Statutory Maternity Pay can be paid out to you for up to 39 weeks. For the first six weeks of your maternity leave, you can expect to receive 90% of your weekly earnings before tax. For the remaining 33 weeks you will receive £148.68 per week, or your average weekly earnings depending on which one is the lowest.
Anything after this point (so the remaining 13 weeks if you are taking the full 52 weeks of maternity leave) will be unpaid as standard. However, if you are self-employed, these rates will change.
Whilst on maternity leave you won’t have to worry about the security of your job as your employment rights are protected, meaning you can still accrue holiday days and pay rises.
Your employer might also offer a maternity pay package to increase the amount you receive. Discuss this with your manager to find out if this is something that the company can provide you with.
How do I tell my boss?
It can be nerve-wracking planning how to inform your boss about your pregnancy, but it’s nothing to feel guilty about. Be honest and tell your boss at your earliest convenience so that they can plan for the time without you there and arrange cover to deal with the workload.
Handing over your workload and schedule is important. It means that whoever will be covering for you will be able to know exactly what to do and when. For example, if your job requires you to work closely with different clients and you’ve already discussed project deadlines with them, make sure that they know you will be off during this time and that someone else will be taking care of it.
Try to be more involved in recruiting for your maternity cover – if there’s someone who you currently work with who knows your routine in and out, it might be a good idea to suggest to your manager that they cover for you.
The longer you allow yourself to compile a comprehensive handover, the easier this will be for you and your employer. You won’t receive any unexpected calls about tasks that are unclear and will be able to enjoy time with your baby without having to worry about how things are going at work.
Getting everything in order
Creating a checklist of the things that you need before your baby arrives is a great way to ensure that you don’t miss anything. It will also let you map out your financial situation for the coming months.
Think about affordable things that will make both yours and your baby’s life easier, such as breastfeeding pillows and baby monitors. Toys and other playthings can come later when your baby is starting to explore with their hands and mouth.
Having a baby shower is a great way to celebrate the soon-to-be birth of your bundle of joy and is great for getting gifted a few essentials. You can also send out a list to attendees of things you don’t yet have but would like for your baby – this way you don’t have to worry about getting any duplicates or unnecessary items.