Tell us about yourself and your business.
I am a qualified solicitor and having qualified, and being admitted to the Roll of Solicitors, in 2013, I have worked in High Street practices, been promoted to Partner, worked in Regional firms and managed departments but always wanted to build my own company based on my own core values. I have always been passionate about helping people and so a career in law was well placed as it enables me to build relationships with clients and assist them in obtaining justice or protecting themselves and their families for the future.
I now have my own business with my business partner Neil, helping our clients plan for their future and having those difficult conversations surrounding Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Inheritance and Funeral Planning. I am also an advocate of Employee Rights and keen to achieve the best results for my clients, whether Employee or Employer and still provide Employment Law services on a consultancy basis as well as writing and presenting training material for the legal profession on Mental Health & Wellbeing in the Workplace, Maternity, Paternity and Shared Parental Leave Rights, amongst other topics.
What is your book about and what motivated you to write it?
I am author of Babysteps: A Guide to Maternity Leave and Maternity Pay. I was approached by a publisher to write this book as there is a clear gap in the market in providing clear simple advice on what a new/expectant mother is entitled to upon announcing her pregnancy to her employer, during and after her maternity leave.Being pregnancy brings about a lot of change, both at home and at work, and so being able to give a little reassurance to expectant mums at such a difficult time, when they may be feeling vulnerable, to give them the knowledge needed can help to relieve some of the pressure.I hope that my book enables expectant parents to plan and consider their options in relation to work without feeling as though they are bombarded with unnecessary statistics and myths that can cloud their thinking.
What, in your opinion, are the main misconceptions about maternity leave & pay?
When I wrote the book, I spoke to many expectant, and new, mothers to see what their biggest concerns were and the common questions that they had but couldn’t get a simple and straight forward answer too…There was a lot of confusion about the link between Maternity Leave and Maternity Pay and whether you had less Maternity Leave if you had paid Maternity Leave rather than usual Statutory Maternity Pay. There was also confusion around the entitlement to Maternity Leave. Everyone is entitled to Maternity Leave, no matter how long you have worked for your employer, it is your Maternity Pay that is dependent on you having worked for your employer for a certain period.
Another common concern and misconception was the entitlement to holiday before, during and after Maternity Leave; your holiday entitlement continues to accrue throughout your Maternity Leave as though you are still working as your Employment Contract continues and so upon returning to work you could have accrued a whole years’ worth of holiday entitlement.
What can employers do to support expectant parents?
I think the biggest thing that employers can do is STAY IN TOUCH!Being pregnant and having your child, especially your first, can be a terrifying time! Although an amazing experience it can be scary and lonely. Feeling isolated and out of touch with people at any time is difficult but when you are already feeling vulnerable it is even worse. Keeping an open dialogue between employer and employee through the Maternity Leave encourages the relationship and makes the transition back to work so much easier.
What are the options for self-employed expectant parents?If you are self-employed for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due AND pay National Insurance (Class 2 or voluntary) and have been self-employed then you may be entitled to Maternity Allowance.Maternity Allowance is paid if you have paid National Insurance contributions for at least 13 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due.The Department for Work & Pensions will advise you if you have not made enough contributions. If you are eligible for full Maternity Allowance, then you will receive £148.66 (the present rate), if not you will only receive £27.00 (as long as all the other criteria is met).I would advise anyone in this situation to seek legal advice, if they are unsure, as this can be tricky to calculate.