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Minimum maternity leave


Well-Known Member
Jul 5, 2005
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I've been onto the job centre this morning and they didn't have a clue, so I'm hoping somebody here has already been through something similar.

I'm self employed and working from home so I'm hoping to get away with maternity leave of just two days (sat in bed nursing baby with laptop if necessary). Maternity allowance of £102 per week from day one will barely feed us and if I take much longer than a couple of weeks, I won't have any work to come back to!!

We've been through all the legislation with the accountant and an 'employee' must take 2 weeks maternity leave following the birth or the 'employer' is committing a criminal offence. Being self employed, would I be classed as both employee and employer and hence commiting an offence?

Another option the accountant came up with was to register a limited company, give my husband a wage and me take maternity leave as normal, doing enough 'work' to keep the business ticking over. I'm very dubious about this one as I would imagine it would be seen as fiddling the system.

Arghhhhhhhhh why did I go self employed? why did I want another baby? Anybody know any good solicitors?

Tracy xx
can you not just take 2 weeks maturnity pay at the standard rate and then go back onto normal wages after the 2 weeks. If your working from home for yourself then you can still work during those 2 weeks so your busisness isn't effected but your wage will only be the standard maturnity rate pay. Could you substitute this by clock up expenses the weeks running up to when you take maturnity leave?

Sorry if this is no help! I work for a company so i'm not clued up on being self employed!

Good luck. Hope yoiu find a solution.
Hi Tracy

If you are self employed, I don't think you can be considered an employer and employee - this applies to companies. Even if you were a company, you as the employee would surely have to file a complaint against yourself the employer for there to be an issue? It's worth double checking the point, but this law was set up to protect individuals from being exploited by employers. You can hardly be accused of exploiting yourself.

Setting up a limited company may not be the best option for you in the long term - particularly if the reason is to solve a very short-term problem. Bear in mind that your company would have to pay employer's national insurance on any salary you pay your husband, AND your husband would also pay full rate NI if he is below the threshold, and tax on this possibly at the higher rate. There are other more tax efficient (and legal) ways of getting the money out of the business if this is the route you go down.

Depending on the nature of the business, you could be worse off financially, particularly if you are not given good tax advice regarding the limited company (which can be costly). There is also more administration involved when you set up a ltd company - don't know how you feel about that, but you may find completing more onerous paperwork is the last thing you want with a new baby to look after. There are advantages of setting up as a limited company, but it totally depends on your individual circumstances whether it's the best decision for you.

I agree with Hayley - can you continue to do the work, but not do any billing for those 2 weeks?

I'm sorry you have to carry on working so soon though - you are going to be shattered. Hope your hubbie will be taking on the housework / cooking....!

Many thanks both of you

We're looking into getting a new accountant - going through our notes last night it seems every one of his suggestions would involve additional services from the accountant - not exactly the impartial advice we'd expected. He's been brilliant doing our annual tax returns (both OH and I are self employed in different businesss) but I think now may be the time to find someone who can also help us as the businesses move forward.

I'm going to get back to the job centre regards the two week minimum and see if there's someone more senior who can help. As you said LB, I can't exactly exploit myself. If I do have to take two weeks, I'll just delay billing - I get on well with most clients so I can't imagine them having a problem with it - they might even like the idea.

I have OH well trained LB so it should be easier this time than going back to full time work straight away (which I did last time!!). Maybe I'll still do the cooking though.

Thanks again
Tracy xx

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