Over the past few weeks i have been reflecting on last year, Things at work were getting tough and i was taking it out on all 4 of my
children, I was angry alot and I wasnt a nice person to be around. I looked into taking some sick time from work but that meant admitting defeat and admitting i needed some help - i wasnt ready to admit defeat, i decided to look into my other options and after looking at Parental Leave on www.gov.uk i realised i was entitled to take 18 weeks off before my child turned 5 years old - something i never knew about before and i felt slightly cheated that with all the struggling i had done over the past couple of years, i could of taken 4 weeks a year without question. So i requested 4 weeks last summer and i was refused it, they offered me 2 weeks unpaid parental leave and and 2 weeks paid holiday - which i took as i was pleased for the break - i needed to rebuild relationships with my children and I needed to feel like i had some control in my life. After my time off was up, I was quite happy to return to work. My family relationships rebuilt and I was so much more De-stressed, thanks to the help i received from The Shaw Trust too.
Soon after I got a new job and it was a lot more hours, and i learned to get more support from people around me. I am grateful for those in my life that are here to encourage me. This year I started to fret about Tilly going to school as she isnt coping very well at nursery, it is hard for her as all her friends left school when the term finished and she still has to go 3 days a week. Although i know not to take my personal life to work, i have told A few people my struggle at the moment, my worries about Tilly and the Transition to school etc, and i asked for some parental leave this year. again only 2 ns half weeks as well as a week paid time off in the middle and a few days work in the middle (kimmy has a week off work, so we are able to stagger the help Tilly needs). This parental leave is available to EVERY parent with a child under 5 years old or 18 for a child under special circumstances. It is 18 weeks in total and a maximum of 4 weeks a year.
Employees qualify if all of these apply:
They’ve been in the company for more than a year
They’re named on the child’s birth or adoption certificate
They have or expect to have parental responsibility
They’re not self-employed or a ‘worker’ - eg an agency worker or contractor
They’re not a foster parent (unless they’ve secured parental responsibility through the courts)
The child is under 5 (or 18 in special circumstances)
I think as a parent we are not told what we are often entitled to and that we have to often read the small print or manuals at work and if you dont know, then you miss out. when i was pregnant with one of my children, I had an employer who disciplined me for taking time off sick, I had terrible sickness and had asked not to work in the afternoons for a little while untill the sickness subsided, yet my plea went ignored and I ended up not being able to work on a few occasions. This was then recorded as sick time and i got a telling off for taking so much time sick (as was the company policy) but i didnt actually know that when your pregnant - all sickness time is disregarded and i had received tellings off for no reason - I had in fact been in the right and the employer (who was female) had been in the wrong! So you really need to know your rights as a mum to be and a mum! I am so lucky with my current employers, they are a family company and we have a book available at work with all the company and legal policies, its available for all the staff to read in the staff room.
Another thing that a lot of parents dont know is that When you take your maternity leave from work, you still accrue holiday time, so if you take the full nine months and then you have a further 3 or 4 weeks worth of holiday gained in that time then you can have it added to the end of your maternity leave - extending it a little bit longer and on Full pay!
Another tip - if your child is ill, take the day off as compassionate time, you dont have to take it as sick, using your sick time and risking a disciplinary. You can find more details Here
I really hope this has been of a little help to someone, as i feel like i had to stumble my way through some of my 'rights' as a parent, i dont want anyone else to do the same.