5 easy ways to make your maternity leave last longer

Talk to your HR manager about entitlements
Talk to your HR manager about entitlements Photo: Getty Images

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Maternity leave is a special time for you, your partner and your new little bundle.

The last thing you want is for financial worries to stand in the way of that joy. So now is the time to get planning so you can maximise your time on leave and decrease the stress.

Here are five ideas for doing just that:

Know your entitlements

It's impossible to know how to financially stretch your maternity leave until you have a strong idea of how much money you'll have coming in.

There are three places to go to find out which parental leave payments you're entitled to:

  • Fair Work. Head to the Fair Work website, or give them a call, to confirm what your employer is legally obligated to pay you.
  • Your employer. Speak to your human resources department; they can help you become familiar with the company's parental leave policies. They should, of course, provide you with the minimum Fair Work provisions, however some employers will offer over and above.
  • Centrelink. You might be entitled to some government payments, and it's a good idea to assess this ahead of time.

How far can those payments go?

Ask your employer if they'll consider paying your maternity leave payments at half rate, for twice the length of time. This can help your cash flow for a longer period, giving you more time at home during those crazy first months of your baby's life.

For example, if your employer provides the legislated minimum of 18 weeks' maternity leave payments, ask them to instead pay half each week for 36 weeks.

Manage your debts

Whether you have a mortgage, a car loan or credit cards, the idea of managing debts when you're on maternity leave can be stressful.

It's worth talking to your bank about the options you have. Some banks offer an option to pause your homeloan when your income goes from two to one. Make sure you do your research though as some banks charge for the service, while others do not.

While you're looking at your debts, think about whether you can clear any of them, like your credit cards, before your parental leave starts. The fewer bills you have to think about, the better.

Negotiate the best deal you can

When you're talking to your employer about their parental leave policies, there may be some room for negotiation.

If you're a senior employee, for example, you might be able to ask for a little more time off with or without pay. And if you're keen to maximise the payments you can get, you can ask to have some annual leave paid out on a weekly basis while you're away.

But your biggest bargaining power comes ahead of time. If you have the chance to look at the company's parental leave policy before starting your employment with them, it can become part of your employment contract negotiations.

Whichever way you're negotiating … good luck!

Start saving ahead of time

Saving money is always a good idea. But it's never more important than when you're about to drop down to one income at the same time as increasing your expenses.

Household costs definitely increase after babies are born, and there's no doubt that other unexpected expenses will pop up. So, start saving as soon as possible to have a financial buffer while you're on parental leave.

That might mean you put aside a set dollar amount each week for spending during maternity leave.

With some of these strategies, you can make your maternity leave work for you so you can relish in those snuggly baby cuddles for as long as possible.

This article is sponsored by CUA