Can you go back on Maternity Leave?

A few months ago I wrote about me taking the UK’s shortest maternity leave.  I had just about two months off to have Ted, went back to work.  Managed to work around two kids and Dave’s full time job, Ted is still exclusively breast fed and I was pumping and dumping around my shifts and it was actually going quite well.  Yes I was tired all the time but that’s just being a new mom, it wasn’t specifically related to work.

A few months ago, I left my job.  The gossip behind it is something I’m not going to divulge, let’s just say I had a moral dilemma and my morals won.

 

This was back in May and it has taken til now, the best part of 3 months to sort out a load of paperwork and to say that I’m now winning a metaphorical made up award for going back on maternity leave with the same baby!

If you ask the question, can I go back on maternity leave? Most HR or ER (as in Employee Relations not hospital lol) departments will say no.  I even asked a solicitor for advice on this and she also said, no you cannot legally go back on maternity leave for the same baby.

You actually can as long as you’re in your maternity 39 week period.  So I left work on 29th December last year which meant I was allowed to take SMP (Statutory Maternity Pay) or MA (Maternity allowance) paid time off until 27th September and I’m allowed to be on maternity leave unpaid until January 2018 and also have the option to take additional maternity leave.

As you know from this post, I didn’t qualify for any SMP which is why I took a short leave because I was going to take a massive pay cut and the maths didn’t add up.  It was not possible for me to live off MA.

Back in April, Dave got a new job.  Better salary, better hours and bonus potential.  So it was satisfying my time vs money theory.  When we re-did the maths we actually could live off Dave’s salary if I was receiving maternity allowance  (or if I worked part time).

I genuinely liked my job and loved my team so it wasn’t something I’d have even considered when he first got the job but when the moral dilemma occurred we realised that I could actually hand in my notice and we would cope.

So that’s what happened.  I left.  13 years in the pub trade and now I’m technically unemployed but actually on maternity leave.  Is it technically maternity leave if you don’t have a job to go back to?  I don’t know but I have a 7 month old baby and my current income is MA.

I’m still MommaBoss, I’ve still got all of my years of experiences and qualifications and nobody can take them away from me but I’ve decided that I’m just going to be a mom for a few months.  In my last couple of weeks at work I was chatting to one of my work mates and she said something that stuck in my head, “People say we can’t just be moms but why can’t we?”  We were talking about how we’re just always on auto pilot and don’t have spare time and I came away thinking yeh why can’t I!  There’s no shame in being a mom.

I am NOT a full time mom by the way.  Motherhood is not my job.  My profession is pub manager.  My job is non existent for now.  Motherhood is simply always a part of me no matter what my CV says.

So yes you can go back on leave if you haven’t claimed your full allowance.  Every woman is entitled (I hate that word) to 39 weeks paid time off.  The level of pay depends on your length of service and company pay policy but everyone will be entitled to some level of pay for that 39 week period.  Government funded pay varies from £27 – £140 per week.

When I first went on leave I used holiday pay so I didn’t claim any MA.  I had 2 weeks unpaid ‘compulsory leave’.  That is bullshit – if it is compulsory it should be full pay but that’s a rant for another day.

Going back on leave meant I had to fill in all the MA forms and send off all my documents and they will backpay up to 3 months.  They deduct any earnings during the backpay period and then pay for the remainder of the maternity period so I am on paid leave until September and then if we can manage I’m staying off until after Ted’s first birthday.

 

The law does state that if you are off for less than 6 months then you have to return to your exact job – if somebody was brought in to cover they need to be on a temporary contract and made aware that it is maternity cover. If you take longer than 6 months off, you only need a job on the same pay and hours when you return.  So for me as a pub manager, they could legally have moved me to another pub but not change the conditions of my contract.

 

So because it was coming up to 6 months into my maternity period it made sense to just leave and go on maternity leave rather than trying to mess around with company politics and paperwork. Even if the company had allowed me to officially go back on leave, they would be under no obligation to put me back in my pub so I’d be starting again either way whether it was with them or a new company.

 

My boys needed me more than the company did.

 

My days are now chilled out playing with Paw Patrol and going to the park.  I’m considering changing my career altogether in January or maybe doing some further studying.  We’ll see!  I’ll probably end up back behind a bar by Christmas, I’m a barmaid at heart.

 

But for now I’m just a mom.

 

Disclaimer:  No where on this blog do I mention my full name, workplace, company name or business information.  The intention of this post is to inform readers that you can go back on maternity leave.  Any links made are purely coincidental and not intended to be derogatory or detrimental to any person or company.  This is a personal account of my experience.