The past two weeks have been incredibly busy. There haven’t been one or two things in particular eating up my time, rather lots of things (ranging from small to big) that have all come together at once. One thing I mentioned last week was the BritMums Live conference, which was fantastic, and I’ll write post about it when I get chance. But I came home even more exhausted than when I left after a busy week, and this week hasn’t given me much chance to rest yet. On top of everything else, Andrew has oral thrush and is most definitely not a happy bunny because he can’t eat without it hurting his mouth, poor thing. The medicine seems to be working already though, as he’s started to eat more again.
Part of my busyness is work-related, both actually doing the work and thinking about the practicalities of leaving. Last week I got my MATB1 form from the midwife. For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of figuring out the paperwork involved with maternity leave and pay, this little (honestly, it’s A5) form is a crucial piece of paper. It is a pregnant mum’s gateway to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), if she is entitled to it. According to the government website Directgov, a pregnant mum can claim SMP through her employer if (1) she has been working for the same employer continuously for at least 26 weeks into the 15th week before the week the baby is due (this basically means if she wasn’t pregnant when she started the job – though I was nearly caught out by this with Andrew because you’re already 3 weeks pregnant when baby is actually conceived in terms of how pregnancy is measured from the day of your last preiod!)…. and (2) if she earns enough to be paying National Insurance contributions.
If she’s not entitled to SMP, she can instead claim Maternity Allowance, which is essentially the same amount of money, but it comes direct from the government (like a benefit) rather than the employer sorting it out. In fact SMP also ultimately comes from the government, but the employer gets the wonderful job of sorting out the paperwork and paying it in the first instance, before the government later pays it back to them – sounds a bit complicated to me, but I’m not a politician who makes the rules.
With this pregnancy I’m in a different situation to last time with regard to work. My contract is due to end on 31st December this year, so if I were to take maternity leave, my contract would end during it. I’d already decided after going back to work part-time after maternity leave with Andrew that I would not want to go back to work for a few years after having another baby, for various reasons. For one it would make no sense financially as my wage wouldn’t cover childcare costs for two. But the main reason is that I have realised that looking after my children in their pre-school years is what I want to do more than any other job. I feel like it’s my calling for this stage of our lives. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the research that I do for my current paid employment, but children don’t stay this young forever, whereas there will always be work to do, whether that be research or something else. This means that I am happy to simply leave my job rather than take maternity leave, which would only last a few months anyway, unless my contract would have been extended.
Interestingly, I thought this would mean I wouldn’t be eligible for SMP, but I am, as long as I don’t leave work until less than 15 weeks before baby is due. As the plan is to work up until early October (with baby due at the end of October), this means I can claim SMP from the government via my employer, even though I won’t be going back to work after baby is born. That’s how generous the maternity provision is in this country – I do feel like it could be a lot worse, and I know some other countries are not as generous with this. I mean SMP/Maternity Allowance isn’t a huge amount of money, but considering I’ll be getting some money for quite a few months after baby is born, even though I won’t have a job and don’t intend to for a while, I think this is pretty nice! As my midwife pointed out though, I’ve been paying National Insurance contributions for a while, and this is what I get in return, at a time when we’ll need it the most.
So in the next week or so at work I need to fill in some forms and get the ball rolling for SMP. But for now there’s plenty of work to be getting on with, making sure I leave everything in a way that others will understand when I’m gone. So far I feel happy that things are going well on this front, but I know I’ll be busy beavering away over the summer to finish things off.
And look at that, I’ve just managed to get this post out on Friday, to keep the routine of my regular pregnancy diary slot on a Friday. With all the things going on, and Andrew not napping as much due to his mouth being so sore, I’ve got a bit behind on my writing this week compared to usual. But that’s what’s nice about blogging, and how it’s not like work – I can do things as and when I want and have time to, with no pressure, because I do it for fun. Hopefully things will calm down a bit over the next week, and I’ll be able to write the next installment about pregnancy before the end of the week…..