Having flexibility around my children was one of the reasons why I started working as self-employed. I was very lucky that I ‘fell’ into blogging and could make money with it, as well as becoming a copywriter as a result of it too. My husband and I have since started another business of our own, so I work full-time for myself with two businesses. Now that I am getting ready to go on maternity leave with our third child, I am definitely reminded why sometimes it can be easier to work for an employer who can take care of it all for you!
There are definitely some concerns to think about when it comes to being self-employed and getting ready for taking some time off work. Not only do you have to think about what you can afford and how long you can afford to not be working, but it is important to think about what savings you have and what maternity pay you are able to get. In fact, it can lead you to think about a credit card alternative such as Polar Credit, as you begin to plan out your finances and make use of credit until some invoices get paid.
Polar Credit offers you access to small sums of money (from as little as £25), so you only borrow what you need and only pay interest on what you borrow. You can also make the most of reduced interest rates with them, starting at 10% reduction and going down to 5% reduction each year, after opening an account with them, so it is classed as revolving credit product, not a loan.
So with all of that in mind, here are some things that have helped me as I get ready to embark on maternity leave in the next couple of weeks.
Know what you are entitled to
One of the things that you need to think about is what kind of maternity pay you are able to get. For example, if you have a registered company as part of your self-employment, you can pay yourself statutory maternity pay through that. If you are just registered as self-employed and aren’t employed by an actual employer, then you can apply for maternity allowance. Both of them need your MAT1B form and involve filling some forms out (which can all be done online).
For SMP, you can get 6 weeks pay at 90% of your regular wage, and then £151.97 per week for the remaining 33 weeks of your maternity leave (unless 90% of your weekly wage is less than that, in which case, you’ll get that lower rate). Of course, if you begin working again, then you need to let HMRC (for a company) or Job Centre (for maternity allowance) know that you’re working again as the payments will then stop.
Don’t delay applying
Although you can’t apply for advanced funding more than four weeks before you want to get the payments (if you are a company director), you shouldn’t put off delaying to apply for maternity allowance. It can make a big difference to you, and if you do delay it, it can delay you getting some payments. You get your MAT1B form usually around twenty weeks of pregnancy, half-way through, so you’ll have plenty of time to look through the forms and apply in time.
Look at your finances and budget
One important thing to do is to look at your current finances, such as your expenses and your savings, to see what your budget might need to be adjusted to when you’re off on maternity leave. If you’re used to earning more each week, then you might need to rely on savings for a little while, or cut back your spending. Making a new budget for yourself can be a good idea with a new baby anyway, as you’ll have some extra things to pay for, such as wipes and nappies.
Keeping in touch days
You can work for up to ten days as part of your maternity leave, called keeping in touch days (KIT). If you want to work a little to get some more money from clients, then these ten days can be used and you can get your normal day or project rate, as well as your maternity pay. However, if you work more than ten days, then you need to cancel your maternity pay as that is being classed as being back at work.
It is a busy time with a new baby on the way and trying to juggle maternity leave and getting things in place so that you can even take some time off at all. But by being prepared and planning well ahead of time, it can make a big difference and mean you can go off on mat leave as stress-free as possible.
*this is a collaborative post.