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3 Tips for Negotiating Pregnancy and Maternity Leave at Work

A study, commissioned by Salary Finance, analysed a variety of issues in relation to women in the workplace, including pregnancy.

The findings indicate that although pregnancy is exciting and wonderful, taking a career break to give birth or raise a child can be a source of worry and anxiety for many women, and some working mothers have experienced negative effects following a pregnancy-related career break.

The most common effects include:

  1. Reduced feeling of financial security (24%)
  2. Reduced salary against own expectations (23%)
  3. Judgement from male colleagues (21%)
  4. Reduced feeling of job security (20%)
  5. Stunted progression (19%)

Reduced feeling of financial security was highest for women working in the law enforcement and security sector, whereas stunted career progression was most felt by women working in business, consulting and management roles. In recruitment and HR, females feel a lack of flexibility, and those returning to jobs in science and pharmaceuticals felt their role had significantly changed upon returning to work.

The team at Salary Finance also sourced multiple legal experts to in on the rights and responsibilities that women in work have. Here’s our favourite tips from Sarah Aubrey, CEO at DPG, that every pregnant woman in the workplace should know:

Know Your Rights:

“Negotiating work both during and after pregnancy can be a difficult issue. When navigating this often-challenging time, it’s important to be aware of your rights, and be comfortable in addressing these with your employer. In the UK, women are entitled to up to 52 weeks maternity leave, although you do not have to take all of this time and your employer is not required to pay you for the entire duration of this period. The earliest you can take maternity leave is 11 weeks before your due date.

“Try to plan ahead with your employers about when your maternity leave will start and end. If your baby is born early, your maternity leave will automatically begin one day after the baby’s birth. If you want to alter your return to work date, you must give your employer eight weeks’ notice.”

Negotiate Your Return to Work Arrangements:

“You are entitled to up to 39 weeks of paid maternity leave. The first six weeks will be paid at 90% of your earnings, the remaining 33 weeks will be at either £145.18 per week or 90% of your earnings, whichever is lower. Some employers offer enhanced maternity pay, so stay informed of your company’s policy and make sure you get the most from it.

“When it comes to getting back into the workplace, be prepared to negotiate for an arrangement that suits you. English, Scottish and Welsh employees have a legal right to request flexible working. It’s known as ‘making a statutory application’, and the only requirement is that you must have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks before making the request. Your request can involve job sharing, working from home, compressed hours and more. Your employers do not have to approve your request, but they must handle it in a reasonable manner and explain their decision if they refuse.”

Ask Your Employer if They Offer Childcare Vouchers:

“Once you’re back in the workplace, you may also be eligible for childcare vouchers. Childcare vouchers allow you to pay for childcare tax-free and are available for children between 2 and 4 years of age. The amount you’re entitled to depends on your family’s income, how much you work, and how much maternity leave you took. You can check entitlements on HMRC’s website. Some organisations offer additional vouchers to their staff, so check this with your manager.”