If you haven’t read part one please check it out here…
Last time I talked about one of the barriers women entrepreneurs face that being KIT days and asked for stories from others.
My first port of call was to send a ranty email to my nearest and dearest girl friends to gather their thoughts. As women how do they feel about their career vs being a mum balance. Most of us can’t wait to be a Mum or already are and by sharing these stories I hope to make it easier for those who are thinking about it to understand how it’s done…
On KIT days
“It’s a good point. My self-employed friend Hazel couldn’t take any mat’ leave at all, due to the piddly pay and KIT days, so she went straight back to work immediately. It’s impossible to earn anymore than around £520 a month for those first nine-months, and then nursery costs mean that, without family helping out, going back to work is near-on impossible too. It’s a definite financial slog until they hit 3 and get the 15-hours free nursery per week, but even that is just one and a half days. Luckily, I only had to/wanted to work two days a week, but I wouldn’t have even been able to do that without the father-in-law there to look after them 10am-4pm on those two days, and if I needed to work full-time, I’d have been screwed, as nursery costs £50 a day, and sometimes I don’t even earn enough to cover that. It’s a real messed up situation for new mums.”
Weighing it up
“Ok so here is my contribution to the debate.
“Sadly we still live in a patriarchal society where, in my opinion, matters such are these are merely add ons rather than thought through policies that actively encourage co-parenting so that both Ma and Pa can get an equal work/life balance share the responsibilities of caring for the life they created.
And, as you rightly point out freelancers or people that run their own business are penalised because they are only eligible to access SMP. The economic environment we currently have to operate in means that many people also have 0 hours contracts so would be eligible for very little in terms of maternity rights either, but don’t forget once you’ve had the kid you will get a a whole extra 82 (?) quid a month child benefit so that will massively increase your SMP. Not.
Childcare in this country is rubbish, this is not disrespecting the people who care for our children when we are at work but the parents get charged a lot in nursery fees, nursery workers are paid comparatively little, so someone is making money somewhere. Our childminders are fantastic but if they are ill or when they have holidays I have to take annual leave.
The funding that kicks in a term after the child is 3 which pays for upto 15 hours a week child care, again is not easily structured to encourage a woman’s return to work as most childcare providers only offer 3 hours a day which is not that helpful seeing as most employers expect you to be there for more than 3 hours a day! Even if you work from home/freelance by the time you’ve dropped the kid off and got back home, you’ve probably got a maximum of 2-2.5 hours to get any work done before you need to pick them up again.
Friends of mine, were able to split their maternity leave. As she is the higher earner, she had to get back to work after 6 weeks and initially went back part time. Her husband then compressed his working hours and between they juggled child care, after a certain period when the money was due to be reduced, she went up to full time and he cut his working hours. this is in line with new legislation that has/is coming in very soon (they have the same employer and convinced them they should be allowed to do this, not realising they had jumped the gun slightly!) their employers didn’t question it at the time. this is a bit of a move in the right direction. Financially, this was their only option but emotionally, it was incredibly hard to back to work so quickly.
The maternity set up, doesn’t give much consideration to to if you have a sick child either, for example if it requires hospital treatment and so you have to take longer off work than anticipated.
Is that enough to be going on with, I could prattle on! look at the set ups in places like Sweden which are far superior, why do the Brits never learn?!