Instead of writing a big, boring paragraph about maternity allowance in the UK that has far too many numbers in it, here’s a quick summary:
- If you are employed you are allowed up to 26 weeks paid maternity leave.
- But a lot of businesses will allow you up to 9 months paid leave.
- You can take an additional 3 months of unpaid leave, if you wish.
- You also accrue annual leave while you’re on maternity leave. Mine amounts to 28 days of annual leave each year. You can tack any amount of your annual leave onto the end of your maternity leave.
- If you don’t use all of the maternity leave you are entitled to, your partner/husband has the right to take what is left of your maternity leave as paternity leave.
As an American I thought, ‘Blimey! (Americans would NEVER think that) That’s forever!’ I struggled even to think about having that amount of time off of work because had I stayed stateside I’d get all of 8 weeks with The Duchess before having to get back to the grind. I remember talking to my boss and having to write my maternity leave letter at 26 weeks pregnant. It was the end of 2010 and in the letter I said something like:
Dear So and So,
I’m outta here to pop out a baby. I’ll be back in January of 2011(that was before I knew about taking my annual leave, so now it’s looking to be late February).
You’ll notice I didn’t write 2012, I stupidly wrote 2011 because who can even think about 2012 when 2011 hasn’t even happened yet! Thankfully, HR pointed out my error. It was all so foreign to be allowed to be off for that amount of time. It seemed like I was somehow mistaken or that someone was playing a mean cultural joke on me.
But here I am in freaking November. Time marches on and I can feel my maternity leave slipping through my cold, wintry, cracked fingers. In just over a week, I have to submit my proposal for my return to work. This includes whether I will take any additional unpaid time off, whether I’ll come back part-time, and how much of my annual leave I plan to take. After not being able to comprehend being off for that amount of time, I now can’t really comprehend going back and can’t figure out what to tell them. I have loved and do love this time with my cheeky-eyed Duchess and struggle with the idea of going back to work, even if it’s part-time. Those day-to-day moments with The Duchess that might be insignificant to anyone else, those tiny moments, are what make my heart so unbelievably full.
Maybe my letter should read:
Dear So and So,
Unless you pay me 1 trillion pounds for working 1 day a week, I don’t think this is going to work out.
…Do you reckon they’d consider that an acceptable proposal?