Whether you view it as a time off to recharge, time out to bring up baby, or maybe just a career break, there’s no denying that maternity leave is a wonderful time in any parents life.
Now, that maternity leave can be shared with men as well as women, we are certainly leading the way in this country.
However, if like me you were used to a decent wage, the shock of surviving on a fraction of your wage is tough – regardless of whether you have a better half to supplement it.
So, you want to make sure you know all the ways you can make the most out of financially surviving your time off. Sadly, some of these came to me far too late, but I hope that by sharing them, you will benefit from the get-go.
Keeping in touch days
Why does no-one ever tell you about these, ahhh! If you’re in employment, check out your entitlement with HR. It is usually something like ten days during maternity leave. During your ‘keeping in touch’ days you are obliged to visit your office for about an hour to stay in touch with colleagues. However in return you get your day rate – not a bad way to rack up the pennies. For instance, if you took all ten and your day rate is £150 after tax, that’s £1,500 right there.
If you’re in work, you’re still entitled to annual leave during your maternity year. The government website in fact says ‘The leave year and holiday entitlement is not affected by maternity, paternity or adoption leave.’ (visit https://www.gov.uk/holiday-entitlement-rights/calculate-leave-entitlement)
Say you’re entitled to 25 days holiday and you earn £100 a day after tax, that’s £2,500 in the bank!
It’s reassuring to know that during your maternity leave, you keep all your employment rights as shown in your contract (except wages). This includes redundancy pay, if something is to happen to your company say.
Sign up to every parent loyalty scheme going, these include; Boots, Tesco, Pampers, Hipp, Organix and Toys R Us. You will soon start seeing the benefits, with discounts and free samples for new Mums and Dads. It is really worth taking some time to try it out.
You’ll probably receive it in your maternity hospital pack, but if you’re unfamiliar Emma’s Diary shares promotions and great offers with Mums and Dads. This includes Argos vouchers – I remember getting our baby walkie talkies for half price using one of their vouchers, so well worth signing up.
Make the most of free dental care during your maternity period – however, sadly this doesn’t apply to private dentists. Still, with the usual cost of a hygienist at £50, it’s kind of worth ‘slumming it’ for the benefit!
If you plan to return to work and have a nursery lined up, you’ll be pleased to know that most companies contribute to a childcare scheme that can help save some money. It’s estimated that parents can save up to £1,000 a year by enrolling in the system. It works by exchanging some of your salary for childcare vouchers, with part of that money being tax-free. Some companies allow you to contribute even throughout maternity leave, so look in to it as soon as you can. For me this works out at roughly £50 saving a month, not bad.
One of the benefits of being off all day is that you can get your hair, eyebrows and all kinds of grooming discounted with midweek offers. Sign up to any local beauty salons and hairdressers to receive information on their incentives.
If your company has a bonus scheme, it’s possible that you may be entitled to your annual bonus. However, the law around this is vague and unclear, since some companies judge bonuses on personal performance, and others on company performance. Unfortunately, there’s no ‘one rule’ and it seems to be discretionary.
Therefore, have a word with your employer and see if you might be able to benefit. There’s no harm in asking after all. Many parents return to work part time after maternity leave, although this means less money, it can also mean less tax. Natwest have a rather useful salary calculator that I found helpful here – http://personal.natwest.com/personal/life-moments/starting-working-life/salary-calculator.html
Be mindful that annual bonuses are paid in April for most companies, so it’s worth being on your boss’ radar at the start of the new year to be in with a chance. Hmm, perhaps a nice Christmas card and gift would help jog their memory!
That’s your lot
Well, that’s it – my top tips for keeping the money rolling in. I don’t profess to be a financial expert and I’m certainly no bookkeeper, these findings are from my own personal experience, so please do look in to your rights, as every employer is different. I recommend checking out the government guidelines here too – https://www.gov.uk/maternity-pay-leave/overview
Still want more? Try reading this for inspiration.