Everything you need to know about maternity leave

Maternity leave can be one of the most exciting, emotionally charged months of a mother’s life. It must be said that it is usually a very different experience when you run your own business. Even if you’re ostensibly an employee of your firm, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to switch off completely. And if you are self-employed, the right to benefits and maternity benefits is still not equal. It has improved, but there is still a way. See here for some of our articles on maternity leave and childcare for self-employed women.

It’s always a personal choice, but government statistics tell us that women are more likely to close their businesses for “personal reasons” during the peak years of motherhood. The flexibility of being able to work with young children is appealing, and for some business models, including online ones, the balance between your business and your child may work perfectly. But for others, it may be an impossible combination of too much work and too little support.

Weigh it. The WorkingMums website has a very good article with detailed questions and answers on maternity rights and self-employment. Below we have compiled the latest information for employees.


Employees are entitled to a year of official leave, regardless of how long you have worked at your current company. You can start this year anytime after 11th the week before your baby is born, so theoretically you get 11 weeks before and 41 weeks after.

However, maternity leave is a different matter. To be eligible for statutory maternity benefit, you must have worked for the company for at least 26 weeks when you turn 15.th one week before due date. You must also be earning an average of at least £112 per week.

Your amount will depend on your current salary, but is roughly broken down into three different amounts.

For the first six weeks you will receive 90% of your salary, for the next 33 weeks you will receive 90% or £139.58 (whichever is less) and there will be no payment after that. So the advice is to budget wisely so you don’t get caught at 39 weeks. You might get more as these are minimum amounts but there are no legal requirements – it all depends on the generosity of your employers and nothing should be assumed. Find out for sure how much will you get using the Money Advice Service calculator.

General parental leave

The goals changed in 2015 with the advent of Shared Parental Leave (SPL), which gave parents much more choice and flexibility in caring for their children in their first year of life. Basically, the parents can split 52 weeks between themselves if they meet certain conditions, with partial payment for 39 of those weeks and two weeks of statutory paternity leave for the father.

Unfortunately, according to Prowess, this new right is not available to the self-employed.

In fact, few fathers agreed to accept this offer; according to research My Family Care of 200 employers, more than 40% have not seen a single male employee take advantage of the offer within the first year. A quarter of firms were unable to provide a figure, and less than a tenth of those surveyed saw more than 1% of male employees take advantage of the offer.

Finances and career concerns were cited as the main reasons for the lack of understanding. However, this does not mean that the idea itself should be ignored – many of those who took parental leave together found it a rewarding and rewarding experience.

Return to work

Remember that if you return to the same position, you are entitled to the same conditions as when you left, and if your role has disappeared, you must be offered a suitable alternative or severance pay.

No matter what, you will have a choice; part time or full time? Nanny, relative or nursery? Return to the same job or role, or look elsewhere? Get as much advice as you can (including those who worked in your absence) and weigh your options before making a final decision.

Image: Maternity leave via Shutterstock

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