For the last couple of weeks I’ve been slightly plagued by the calendar. Why? Because I’ve been aware of how much of my maternity leave has already gone. I’ve now been off work for seven months and that nagging voice in the back of my head kept telling me I needed to negotiate terms for going back.
Here in the UK there have been a lot of changes to the rules governing maternity leave – pay, length of time etc. I had only been working for the company for just over 4 months which has meant that I have been being paid Maternity Allowance (at just over £120 a week). This lasts for 39 weeks…and runs out in February. Eek! However, it has been really important to me that a) I take as much time off to spend with Baby as possible and b) that when I do go back I work less hours also so I can spend as much time as possible with Baby. I should also add that c) it is really important that I have an income as we can’t afford to live on Husband’s salary alone and certainly would never be able to get a mortgage again if I didn’t.
I’ve obviously been thinking about this a lot over the last few months but particularly over the last few weeks as the time where this needed to be sorted out by was getting ever closer. With that in mind I carefully thought over what would work for me, what would be fair to the company I work for and what the financial implications would be so I had a point at which to start discussions. The trouble was, the more I thought about it, the more nervous I started to get. What if they said no? What if they were put off by the amount of time I wanted to take off (even if it is my legal right to have 52 weeks leave, it doesn’t mean a company is going to be happy about it)? What if they said it had to be full-time or nothing? Argh! Deciding to take the ‘rip-the-plaster-off’ approach I called my boss this week and asked if I could call in to talk about it all.
He couldn’t have been nicer or more supportive. I saw him the same day I telephoned and it was all sorted out by the end of the meeting. I am going back in 5 months, part-time. I’ll be in the office two full days a week and then working from home two days a week (for 4.5 hours a day). This means I will be working roughly 2/3 of the time I was previously. This is perfect as it means I will be available for four days a week (so not so very different from my previous five days) which is good from their point of view. From my perspective it is good as I will have one whole day with Baby during the week plus two half days. PLUS, as I won’t have to commute on the half days I will be able to finish work and immediately be back on Mum duty.
Very luckily for us, my parents are going to be providing childcare so I know that Baby is going to be in the best possible hands. On the days when I am not working in the office I can either work from my house or my parents house so I’ll be very close by!
Now that everything has been settled I feel like a huge weight has been lifted and I can enjoy my five lovely months of pure Baby. Oh, and for the eagle-eyed among you, you might have twigged that this means from February I have no income at all for about three months. Yup. Nada. Watch this space for some extremely frugal times!