Maternity leave is a concept that will be familiar to UK bosses, despite the changing nature of the workplace and the constant challenging of gender stereotypes in the modern age.
It also remains incredibly popular and widely used in the UK, with the decision to create gender neutral, shared parenting leave having only resulted in 2% of new parents splitting their new-found entitlement.
There are numerous reasons for this, but in this post, we’ll look at maternity leave in closer detail while asking how parents can prepare for an extended period away from the office.
What is Maternity Leave and What are Your Rights When Expecting?
In simple terms, the term ‘maternity leave’ refers to a period of absence from work, which is granted to a mother both before and after the birth of her child.
In the case of shared parental leave, both mother and father can share up to 50 weeks of leave and a maximum 37 weeks of paid absence. So, although the mother is legally required to take some time off immediately after the birth, each parent is allowed to take up to three blocks of leave in a more flexible manner.
Traditional maternity leave makes a provision for 52 weeks of leave for the mother alone, 39 of which are paid. Of these, the initial six are remunerated at 90% of the applicant’s earnings, with the remaining 33 paid at a statutory rate of £145.18 per week (or £580.72 per month).
However, you must have been continuously employed by a company for at least 26 weeks to qualify for full maternity leave, with an estimated 28% of women in employment being denied access to paid leave as a result of this or their precise employment status.
Of course, there are also instances where women who are entitled to maternity leave may be denied this by their employer. In such cases, you may need to seek out the advice of expert employment law solicitors, in order to understand the relevant options and pursue legal action as required.
How Can You Prepare for Maternity Leave?
As your rate of pay may decline significantly following the first six weeks of maternity leave, you may be required to make key financial preparations.
Accurate budgeting offers a sensible starting point, as this allows you to outline your income and outgoings to create genuine insight into your precise financial circumstances.
This also makes it possible to determine precisely how much disposable income you have each week or month, highlighting any fiscal shortfalls that may occur as your maternity leave progresses.
This way, you can make any necessary changes to your lifestyle and spending habits, creating a more frugal existence that can sustain you into the future.
Depending on the nature of your job, you could also proactively save holiday days ahead of time and use these prior to officially starting your maternity leave.
This affords you greater flexibility in relation to your maternity leave, while enabling you to potentially secure more paid leave as a mum to be!