The UK has the lowest maternity benefits in the European Union and many women are under the false impression that their employers will pay more. Some do, but most are public sector employers; unfortunately private sector companies are still reluctant to do more than what is required by law – only 5% offer extended maternity leave and pay!
Women often think, particularly if they work for a large employer where there are excellent company benefits, that maternity benefits will also be good. DON’T assume this and don’t wait until you are pregnant to find out what your maternity entitlement is (See the ‘Help and Information Sources’ section for an explanation of maternity benefits)
Try negotiating with your employer but don’t leave it until you are pregnant and don’t pin your hopes or budgeting on a positive outcome. It is better to start saving now, working out your likely costs and loss of income, then putting away a realistic amount each month to make up the shortfall. The less you have saved the more likely it is that you will have to return to work early. In fact recent statistics from the TUC show that some 30% of women take less than the statutory 18 weeks maternity leave – citing financial reasons for returning to work.