“From April 2015, parents will have greater choice over how they share time off work to care for their child. Shared Parental Leave allows working couples to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay in a way that suits their work and family needs. For example, parents can take time off together or they can tag team, stopping and starting leave and returning to work in between if they wish. You can check your eligibility and how much pay you can get here. We’d love to know what bloggers think about this and how you’d use it for your family.”
I’ve thought about this. I’ve thought a lot. See, I was set in my ways, when maternity leave started I wanted the whole year off, I wanted to spend time with my excellent daughter but also wanted to take the responsibility of being the parent that was there on a day to day basis. Don’t get me wrong, Shaun was always around, but he was at work all day – and then often in the evenings studying for his ACCA exams. There were often times it was hard.
But then I wonder, would I have liked being at work when I was still feeding H? (to be fair, she fed until she was 2.5 but I wasn’t to know that)
When I went back to work I was told I could have a little room to pump when I needed to, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I don’t know why. I’ve never been that good at leaving my desk. Leaving my desk to pump milk for my daughter? Nope, I couldn’t do it.
As it was, H was a year old when I went back, and I used my Keeping In Touch days once a week for her Nursery settling in. That worked well as they had no space for her other than the one day, see, you don’t think about spaces at nursery and how lucky we were with her being an August baby, as the most movement at nurseries is in July-August-September time as children leave to start school and the younger ones move up a room to take their space, making room for the new babies. The money I got from work for doing four days a month equalled the same as maternity pay, so we didn’t experience the three months of no pay which is often a worry when you’re on maternity leave. But if nursery hadn’t had a space, what would I have done?
It says here in regards to the other parent taking their share “The pay stops when the mother’s maternity pay would have ended.” which I’m taking to mean three months of no pay for the other parent? So you’re potentially worse off? Is the three months when your SMP drops to nothing counted as being paid, even though you get nothing? I am unsure.
Also, doubling up on the time off – while that sounds lovely, does this make the year off shorter? I’d much rather have a year.
One of my workmates did shared parental leave. Her husband brought in her daughter on his last week of time off, while she’d been back at work six months. I felt sort of envious, mainly as it was possible for them to do it.
The pay is the same for both parents, £138 these days (it was £124 when I was off) – but we knew this, and saved money beforehand. Things like Council Tax and Car Insurance were paid off in one annual payment for three years until our heads bobbed above water again thanks to these savings before we reentered the world of monthly direct debits and debts, debts and more debts.
Back then we both earned a similar amount, but Shaun was able to have a month off when H was first born – on full pay which is important in those early days.
So really, I think shared parental leave isn’t for us.