Can You Negotiate Maternity Pay ?

Having a baby is a wonderful but stressful time too, especially when it comes to family finances. Maternity pay often represents a large drop in income, right at the time when every penny is needed for the new arrival, so its worth while exploring if you can negotiate maternity pay. 


Living on Maternity Pay Can be Difficult

In a recent Noddle poll of 1,004 new parents, around half said they were worried about money during their parental leave and more than a third felt that the costs of preparing for a family came as a shock.

Meanwhile, 35% of mums decided they needed to return to work earlier than they wanted to due to financial worries and almost 50% have to adhere to a strict budget to makes ends meet. Many have had to rely on credit cards and overdrafts to get by, or embark on a second job. In fact, one in four parents have needed to take out credit during parental leave, even though 53% have put aside £3,000 in savings before their leave started.

With many parents underestimating how much raising a baby costs whilst on a reduced income – by as much as £500 a month in fact – debt is a huge concern.


So can maternity or paternity pay be negotiated?

It really goes back to that old adage, if you don’t ask you don’t get. Okay so it’s not something that’s perhaps as common in the UK as it is in other countries like the US, but it’s still worth considering. After all, your employer’s maternity leave policy is not necessarily set in stone. Let’s face it, chances are you have nothing to lose and the worst that can happen is you get a no.

It must be said that negotiating maternity pay in huge organisations with thousands of employees may certainly be difficult, as these are policies which impact a large number of people. However, it’s certainly not impossible if it is proposed as a policy change that will benefit the business (in terms of rentention and employee engagement etc) with plenty of evidence to support the case. You may also want to think about working together with colleagues to implement changes.

It’s wise to start off by getting yourself clued up so you know where you stand. Read through your employment contract as well as your company’s maternity leave policy from HR so you start off negotiations on the right foot.

Negotiation Tips
  • Do some research and benchmark maternity or paternity policies within your industry
  • Sell the benefits, we’ve pulled together the benefits in an article called why every employer should offer paid parental leave
  • Make sure you negotiate face to face with your boss and/or HR. Choose a time where you won’t be rushed or interrupted.
  • Frame your argument around how it will help the team or the wider business. Make it a joint problem or opportunity rather than a demand or threat.
  • Your approach is just as important as the content of your request so it’s important to stay calm
  • Be flexible. Make it clear you’re open to ideas from your employers and are not simply here to bark orders!


If maternity pay definitely can’t be negotiated, try for a salary increase or bonus instead

You may be able to negotiate a slightly higher salary or a bonus which would helpincrease the amount of statutory maternity pay. Which is calculated based on your average weekly pay.

Have a back up plan

Have a back-up plan in your mind just in case your ideal maternity leave situation isn’t within reach after all. For example, you might be able to work from home on certain days during your maternity leave as Keeping In Touch Days to help out. You may even be able to get more time off, albeit unpaid.

Head into your negotiation meeting with a good idea of what you think is most achievable but be willing to compromise. You could suggest a shorter maternity leave for more pay, or a longer leave period for less. Job sharing may also be an option upon return as well as remote working. 

Non-monetary benefits can also be negotiated

If money is proving to be a tricky subject, try to negotiate non-monetary benefits like flexible starting and finishing hours in the weeks when you return, remte working and additional opportunities for more training whilst you’re away. Smile, be clear and polite – and see what happens!