I love maternity leave. Can I extend how much time I have off?

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So, you are loving your maternity leave and would like to extend it? This post is all about the ins and outs of extending your maternity leave so that you can get the time off that you want.

As always, let’s have a quick recap on what maternity leave actually is.

Let’s have a quick recap on maternity leave

Maternity leave is the legally protected time that a woman is allowed away from work following the birth of her baby. Entitlement to maternity leave is from day one of being employed. There is no qualifying criteria, other than one day of employment.

It is not the same as maternity pay and just because you qualify for maternity leave, there is no automatic entitlement to maternity pay.

How long is maternity leave?

Maternity leave is for a maximum of 52 weeks from the date that you select. The minimum maternity leave is 2-4 weeks depending on whether you work in a factory or not.

Although official maternity leave is for a maximum of 52 weeks, other types of leave can be ‘wrapped’ around either side of your maternity leave to maximise the time that you have away from work.

Once I have decided how long to have, can I change my mind?

In most cases, it’s okay to change your mind. If you have decided on maternity leave already, provided you can give your employer enough notice then you can change your mind.

The minimum amount of notice you need to be able to give is eight weeks. This is the case for extending or reducing your maternity leave length.

What do I need to do if I change my mind?

If you have made the decision to stay off longer or return to work earlier than planned, here is what you should do:

  • write to your employer – include your manager, someone from HR or someone from payroll – who ever it is, make sure you write to more than one person
  • follow up with them to make sure everything is acknolwedged and in writing so that you know where you stand
  • check any return to work arrangements you might have made such as childcare that might need to be changed
  • update your budget so you know where you stand financially

I’ve already planned the maximum, what else can I do?

With some careful planning, maternity leave doesn’t have to be limited to 52 weeks. Here are some other types of leave which you could ‘wrap’ around your official maternity leave to help you extend maternity leave.

  • annual leave (pre maternity leave)
  • annual leave (post maternity leave)
  • bank holidays (post maternity leave)
  • unpaid parental leave (post maternity leave)
  • keeping in touch days (although not extra leave, they are extra money!)
extend maternity leave

I’ve had enough! Can I go back to work early?

Maternity leave is not for everyone and there could be any number of reasons for returning to work early. This actually happened to me when I had the twins – I hadn’t really planned properly and I ran out of money!

In the section above I talked about what you need to do to extend your maternity leave. If you would like to reduce it, the process is the same. That is, you just need to be able to give eight weeks notice that you intend to return to work early.

If need more help to plan and prepare for maternity leave, download my FREE maternity leave planner here. The book to accompany the planner can be bought on Amazon for just £4.99 (Kindle version).

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