Cash fears hit maternity leave plan

Babe in armsNearly half of working mothers-to-be are planning to cut short their maternity leave due to financial worries, research have found.

Some 45% of expectant mothers who currently work said that they cannot afford to take a full year out of their job, MoneySupermarket found.

One third of those surveyed said that they will spend between six and eight months at home with their newborn before returning to the workplace.

A further one in 10 said the squeeze on their finances amid high living costs and stagnant wages means they will only be able to take between three and six months off.

Some 44% of parents who said they are worried how they will manage financially when their family expands said that the stress has caused them to row with their partner.

Clare Francis, personal finance expert at, said: "Having to adjust your lifestyle to cope with the new arrival is hard enough, but with many couples seeing a fall in income due to one of them giving up work or taking maternity leave can heap further pressure on families when they least need it."

The research was carried out among 315 expectant parents between January and February. The Government confirmed plans in last week's Budget for a tax-free childcare scheme worth £1,200 a child for working parents from 2015.

Minimum statutory maternity pay (SMP) rules mean that mothers receive 90% of their average weekly earnings for the first six weeks of maternity leave, followed by further payments, which vary according to a mother's usual earnings, for the next 33 weeks.

Justine Roberts, CEO and co-founder of website Mumsnet, said: "There are all kinds of financial pressures on parents, whether it's the dip in salary whilst on maternity leave or the rising cost of childcare.

"It's great to budget if you can, but a helpful piece of advice from Mumsnet users is to hold fire on buying a multitude of baby products in advance, and to wait until the baby arrives before making big purchase decisions."