How to make money on maternity leave

You’ve made it through what feels like the longest countdown in the world. Paused your career to take on a different role. You’ve swapped 9 to 5 for 24/7. Unfortunately, your pay most likely won’t reflect this increase in hours or responsibilities. UK maternity leave does come with some financial support. However, it’s not the same as having a consistent, full time wage. “Financial necessity” is one of the most common reasons for 68% of mothers returning to work. But what if there was a way to top up your maternity leave entitlement? This article looks at how to make money on maternity leave.

Maternity leave pay

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to UK maternity leave pay and entitlement. Instead, there are a few options available in terms of financial support. You may be eligible for one or more of them. First, we’ll look at some of the options which are linked to your employment status (prior to taking leave). However, if you’d like to earn extra money on maternity leave, we’ll look at some side hustle ideas too.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

SMP is the minimum amount that a UK employer must legally pay their employee while they are on maternity leave. To qualify for SMP you must earn at least £120 a week on average and provide your employer with proof of your pregnancy and the correct notice. You must also have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks prior to the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.

SMP is usually paid to eligible employees for up to 39 weeks. For the first 6 weeks, you can earn 90% of your average weekly earnings (pre-tax). For the remaining 33 weeks, you’ll either continue to earn this amount or £145.18 per week; whichever is the lower amount. Use a maternity leave calculator to work out how much leave, pay, or allowance you could be entitled to.

Additional maternity pay

Some companies offer maternity packages on top of SMP which can be a huge boost to both morale and your financial situation. Check your employer’s maternity policy to see what may be on offer for you. This option of maternity pay differs company to company. For example, insurance firm Aviva offers new parents 12 months’ parental leave, with six months at full basic pay. Etsy offers their employees 26 weeks of fully-paid parental leave. Remember however, that your company may not have a maternity package so make sure you check.

Keeping in Touch (KIT) days

KIT days are days during which you can work for your employer without your maternity leave ending prematurely. You can work up to 10 KIT days without your leave or pay stopping. However, KIT days can only take place if both you and your employer agree to them beforehand. Similarly, you’ll need to discuss pay in advance as there is no obligation for your employer to pay on top of SMP or the national minimum wage.

Can I earn extra money on maternity leave?

Taking a temporary hit to your paycheck during maternity leave can be difficult to manage. Whether you’re someone who budgets every penny or likes to leave the spending tap running.

But don’t worry. There are ways to supplement your income and earn extra money on maternity leave. We’ll have a look at some of those in a moment but there are a few things to think about first. 

For example, are you allowed to work while on maternity leave? You should be able to work on a self-employed basis without it affecting your SMP. You’ll also need to check your employment contract to make sure there’s nothing in there to prevent you from doing so. However, working for your employer while on leave will most likely see your SMP stopped. Use KIT days if you want to do this.

You’ll also need to make sure you’re following the rules around tax and self-employment. And paying the right amount of tax. The same rules apply in regard to paying tax on your total earnings whether you’re on maternity leave or not. Inform the taxman as soon as you start earning money from your side hustle and complete a Self Assessment form.

If you decide to start a new job during maternity leave, your SMP will stop the week you start the new job. This refers to being employed by a company rather than doing freelance work. However, you can also do self-employed work without your SMP being affected. 

5 ways to earn extra money on maternity leave

Now that we’ve taken a quick look at if you can make extra money on maternity leave, it’s time to look at how to do it. Starting a side hustle can be a great way to boost your income. It gives you a chance to monetise your skill set and work at your own pace. This is perfect when you need to work around a baby.

  1. Matched betting
    Matched betting is a technique that allows you to turn free bets offered by bookmakers into real money. It’s not gambling and it’s a lot more straightforward than it sounds. Rather than relying on luck, you cover all of the potential outcomes of an event by placing two bets so that you win no matter what happens. So instead of betting on England to win, and then hoping they do, you would place two bets:

    – One on England to Win
    – One on England to Not Win (this also covers a draw result).

    Using software such as the tools created by a matched betting site like OddsMonkey means that you can calculate how much you need to stake on these bets in order to lock in a profit.

    Matched betting can be done when- and wherever you want, which makes it an ideal way to earn extra money on maternity leave. Find out more about matched betting here.
  2. Make baby clothes
    Or any baby-related accessory. Whether you’re handy with a sewing machine, knitting needles, or crochet hook, you could open a shop on Etsy and promote yourself on social media. There is a huge market for handmade baby clothes and products. Just take a look on Instagram: there are a staggering 503k posts in the #handmadeclothes tag and 222k posts in the #handmadebabyclothes tags.

    There are also shops of every size selling handmade baby clothes on Insta. For example: @sweet_as_april has 132k followers, @marloweville has 17.7k followers, and @sweetpeasewinghut with 432 followers. This just goes to show that you can start small and still be successful.
  3. Baking / cake decorating
    Who hasn’t pictured themselves in the Bake Off tent at some point? If you’ve got a sweet tooth, there’s always an excuse for cake. Keep things local with pickup from your front door or send your cakes to someone else’s front door by mailing them out.
  4. Freelance copywriting
    Pick up writing gigs on sites like Upwork or Fiverr. Freelance copywriting covers a range of sectors and skills. For example, maybe you come from a medical background; use your prior knowledge to write technical copy. Or maybe you have a degree in Creative Writing; use this experience to write slogans, straplines, or brand stories.

  5. Photography
    Take the opportunity to hone your photography skills and elevate your pictures from simple snapshots to quality images. You can do this with your smartphone; you don’t need fancy equipment. And you don’t have to be a professional photographer to sell photos online and make money.

    Sell your photos to stock sites or as on-demand prints for some passive income. Or set yourself up as a freelance photographer and capture someone’s most beautiful moments.

Returning to work after maternity leave

Returning to work after maternity leave is a very personal decision to make. And it may not be one that’s entirely within your control. Factors such as childcare costs, inflexible working hours, or logistics may mean you have to change your employment structure.

You may choose to return full-time

Research conducted into career progression before and after having a baby suggested that employment type had some impact on the return. For example: “of those working full-time prior to childbirth, 44 % returned and remained in full-time work three years after having a baby”.

Part-time or flexible working arrangements

However, returning to your previous status quo isn’t always possible. According to a 2018 study commissioned by the UK government, “fewer than one-in-five of all new mothers […] return to full-time work in the first three years after maternity leave”. Similarly, 58% of respondents to an NCT survey on Returning to Work, stated that they are “working fewer hours” than they were before they went on leave.

Not returning to work after maternity leave

You may even decide not to return to work at all. Whatever your decision, you could continue your maternity leave side hustle even after the baby starts sleeping through…(It will happen one day, I promise!)

Depending on how successful your side hustle is, you could decide to expand and start your own business.

Other ways to make money online

For more side hustle suggestions, check out our handy Make Money Online hub.

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