Work & Benefits
If you’re working, you will no doubt have been thinking about taking time off to look after your little bundle of joy as well as managing your finances adequately so you can enjoy that time off comfortably.
To make sure you can plan ahead, it is worth knowing exactly what your options are and what sort of money will be available.
What you get will depend on your individual circumstances, such as whether you are employed or just started a new job.
It’s not just mums that need time off with a baby, dads do too.
Once your baby is born, you may be entitled to up to two weeks paternity leave.
Your employer is legally obliged to allow you to take ordinary paternity leave (OPL) in addition to your normal holiday allowance.
You must take the time off in one go and not in bits and it must be taken before your baby is 56 days old.
Check with your employer what they offer, as some employers will offer more time off than average.
You need to have been with your employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before your baby is due – basically, around 41 weeks before the due date.
If you are adopting, then you need to have been with your employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the end of the week that you are told you’ve been matched with your child for adoption.
If you haven’t been with your employer long enough, then you may still be entitled to parental leave, although you will not get paid for the time off.
Flexible working & self employment
There are plenty of options for mums returning to work.
You may feel going back full time is no longer suitable and may want to consider working part-time, job sharing, term time working, or even working from home.
If you’ve been with your employer for at least 26 weeks, including maternity leave, then you can ask your employer to consider an alternative working arrangement.
You can ask for a change in your working pattern once a year and although your employer isn’t obliged to say yes, they must give you a valid business reason if they reject your request.
Some of the options you could discuss with your employer are:
- Part-time – plenty of mums feel they need more time at home with their baby, but also want to or need to work. Going part-time give you the option to do both
- Term-time working – this enables you to take time off when the schools are out. This could be handy when your kids are older. You won’t get paid for this time off
- Change of hours – a simple change such as starting early and finishing early may suit you
- Job sharing – some employers are open to this and it could be a perfect solution for two mums in the same company
- Working from home – depending on your job type, this could be an option. You could maybe ask for one or two days of working from home
This tool from the government’s DirectGov site is useful to help you put a case to your employer and help you weigh up your options.
Being made redundant is a tough time and no doubt you will have concerns over money.
If you, or someone in your family, is made redundant, then there are a number of things you can do and need to think about.
First, you will be entitled to statutory redundancy pay – this is the minimum your employer has to give you. To work out how much you are entitled to, use this DirectGov calculator.
Employment and support allowance
If you have a disability or an illness and are unable to work, then you may be able to claim employment and support allowance.
You get personalised support and financial help to do some appropriate work, if you can.
You get access to a specially trained adviser and services to help with employment, training and condition management support.
The first step to getting this benefit involves a medical assessment known as the work capability assessment to assess your capabilities and limitations as well as what medical support you need.
The government expects you to be looking for some kind of work at some point whilst on this benefit.
- Your statutory sick pay has ended, or you are unable to get it
- you’re self employed or unemployed
- you have been getting statutory maternity pay but are unable to return to work because you are ill or have a disability preventing you from working
- you are under state pension age when claiming
- your illness or disability prevents you from work for at least four days in a row
- you are unable to work for two or more days each week
- you are receiving special medical treatment
To apply for employment and support allowance, phone 0800 055 6688 or textphone 0800 023 4888. You can also make your claim in Welsh on 0800 012 1888.