Mums at work – your questions answered

Our working mum gives it to you straight on how to balance work and home


Q: I have two part-time jobs. Do I get maternity leave and pay for both?

A: Yes. If you work for two employers, you have rights to maternity pay and leave with both of them, on a pro-rata basis for each job. However, you must ensure that you’ve worked for each employer for 26 weeks before the qualifying week (15th week before the baby’s due), and that you give the correct notification of when your maternity leave with each one will start.


Q: I am 14 weeks pregnant. When I told my boss, he said I wasn’t entitled to any maternity pay because I was a freelance worker, not an employee. I’m really upset, and terrified about how I’m going to cope financially. Can this really be right?

A: Without knowing more about what you do and how you work, it’s hard to say. Some people who work are not legally employees. If you are a casual worker or you work from home, you may not
be entitled to full maternity pay, but you should seek advice, as some bosses do try to get out of their legal obligations. Try calling the TUC’s Know Your Rights Line 0870 600 4882 for advice about your specific situation. Even if you don’t qualify for maternity pay, you do have legal protection, including the right to claim sex discrimination if you are treated unfairly as a result of your pregnancy. And if you worked for 26 of the 66 weeks before your baby is due to be born, you will qualify for government Maternity Allowance, which is £106 a week.

Q: I was really pleased when my boss let me go part-time after I came back from maternity leave three months ago. But I wasn’t allowed to get my old job back and the work I’m doing now is totally different – it’s the sort of thing I was doing five years ago. I feel bored and cheated. It’s hardly worth being away from my baby. Do you think I should have asked for my old job back?

A: While women normally have the right to return to their old job within a certain time-frame, you don’t have the right to have that particular job and go part-time. However, if your old job could have been turned into a part-time post, and your new job is a lower status – with less pay, perhaps, or no opportunities for promotion – you might have a claim under the sex discrimination act. But frankly, not many of us want to go down that route. Why not have a chat with your boss instead about how to make your work more interesting and challenging? Or could you apply for a promotion which you think could be done as a part-time job? Use the time now to show how enthusiastic, efficient and committed you are, and that will stand you in good stead in the future. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.


Q: After maternity leave, I now work four days a week. My childless colleagues think I’m lazy. How can I answer them?

A: It’s best to get them on your side. Go out for lunch together and make sure you get your work done, especially if they have to tie up any loose ends on your day off. In the end, you may have to ignore their comments or explain they could work part-time for a part-time salary, too – that’s the part that’s usually conveniently forgotten!

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