Everything you need to know about maternity leave

Preparing for the arrival of your bundle of joy is an exciting time, with plenty to think about and organise. Part of your preparations will no doubt be about your work – how will you feel about returning to work? Do you want to go back? When should you go back? How much will you get paid while you’re on leave?

You may even want to think about changing you whole approach to work after your baby arrives, for example finding a part-time role. Sites such as jobstoday.co.uk allow you to refine your job search by part-time roles, find out more here.

So, while you’re planning, here are a few things to consider.

Breaking the good news

Telling people about your pregnancy is an exciting and emotional part of having a baby. Many people choose to wait until after their 12 week scan to tell people outside of their very close circle of family and friends, but when should you tell your employer? Legally you must tell your employer of your intention to take maternity by the 15th week before your baby is due, but it’s probably a good idea to tell your manager sooner than this, not only as it helps you both plan for your maternity leave, but your employer’s specific duty of care for pregnant employees doesn’t take effect until you have told them you are pregnant. You may also need time off for antenatal appointments, or with morning sickness! The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) has a whole range of information and advice about telling your employer.

Getting the most out of your maternity

If you work, you’ll be entitled to either Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance, and you may also qualify for other benefits. You can calculate the amount you should expect to receive, using the online calculator at www.gov.uk. This government website also holds essential information about your employment rights while you’re on maternity leave.

SMP is paid for up to 39 weeks and is 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks, and £138.18 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks. It’s paid in the same way as your wages and tax and National Insurance will be deducted.

If you don’t qualify for SMP, you’ll get Maternity Allowance and you may be eligible for maternity benefits or even a Sure Start grant, which you can find out more about on the Turn2Us website.

Lots of companies offer additional benefits on top of statutory maternity pay, and you’ll be able to get information from you Human Resources department.

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