Maternity leave, what are your entitlements?
When I had my eldest child, I was living in the UK at the time and the maternity leave I had was great. I had fully paid leave for a few months and returned to work after that. It was only for a very short time in the end, as we’d made the decision to return home to Australia. Luckily I had a family member who was living there at the time so she looked after my son at home while I returned to work.
Meanwhile, I had a girlfriend in the US who was also pregnant and spent most of her pregnancy frantically trying to find a decent daycare for her baby. She had to return to work 6 weeks after her baby arrived. It was a very hard time for her and her partner and their baby, and to this day she still feels resentful that she had to return to work so early on. But with a mortgage to pay and bills piling up she had very limited choices.
Back home in Australia when I fell pregnant with Miss Medium and later on Mr Small, because of the contracts I had I wasn’t entitled to any maternity leave. So each time we had to manage our budgets extremely carefully and I worked up right to the last possible minute with each baby. I was determined to enjoy the time I had with my newborns as much as possible afterwards, because lets face it, the time really does fly by when they are so small.
But it does make me wonder. I know we now have new maternity laws in place and paid parental leave entitlements. I did have that time in the UK where I felt extremely spoiled with my maternity leave allowance. But if we look at Sweden where all working parents are entitled to 16 months paid leave per child, and the cost of it is shared between employer and the state, I can’t help thinking Australia has a way to go.