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Finance Dee explores maternity perks such as ‘KIT’ days, £500 Sure Start Grant, annual leave accrual, and health benefits including free prescriptions.
What is the first thing you think of when you hear the words “maternity leave”?
Bonding time with baby? Exhaustion? Perks?
Thankfully, aside from the inevitable bonding and tiredness, there are indeed a few perks that all mothers can make use of during their maternity leave.
Let’s take a look at the top perks for maternity leave.
Keeping in touch (KIT) days
During maternity leave, an employee is entitled to work up to 10 KIT days as a way to “keep in touch” with work and related activities. These days are entirely optional and need to be agreed upon by both the employer and the employee ahead of time. Making use of KIT days neither interrupts maternity leave nor stops maternity entitlements such as statutory maternity pay (SMP).
KIT days can be used to work as you would normally as per your contract, such as getting updated on the status of your work, partaking in meetings, attending trainings or conferences, or whatever is relevant and normal in your line of work.
KIT days are generally expected to be paid as a regular working day, so are particularly useful when maternity pay is pretty much non-existent (typically after month 9 of maternity leave). However, a discussion should be had with the employer ahead of time about how KIT days are to be structured and paid1.
Sure Start maternity grant / health insurance baby bonus
For those who are first time parents, or first time parents to multiples (e.g. twins), a £500 grant may be available to those who are already in receipt of certain benefits2.
The claim needs to be made within 11 weeks following the birth. As this is a grant, the funds do not need to be pay back.
If you have private health insurance, you may quality for a ‘baby bonus’ which is a payment made following the birth of a child. This will be policy-specific so will need to be confirmed with the insurance provider.
Annual leave accrual
Maternity leave isn’t legally considered a break in employment, therefore benefits such as pension contributions and annual leave entitlements do not stop.
For instance, if a year’s worth of maternity leave is taken, a year’s worth of annual leave should be accrued as per your usual contract. It is important to know that an employer is able to disallow the carry-over of any unused annual leave into the new holiday year.
Similarly to KIT days, these arrangements and entitlements should be discussed with the employer and clearly understood before the start of maternity leave3.
It is also important to note that annual leave cannot be used during maternity leave, but must be used either before or after the maternity leave period. Alternatively, an arrangement can be made (at the employers discretion) to stagger the return to work process in conjunction with annual leave.
Free prescriptions and dental care
A mother is entitled to free prescriptions and dental care during pregnancy and for 12 months following the birth of their baby.
This can be achieved via a maternity exemption certificate which will need to be obtained through a midwife, practice nurse, GP or health visitor.
A maternity exemption certificate is back-dated by a month from when the application is received, so if the certificate is requested during the first midwife appointment (generally before the 10th week of pregnancy) the certificate should cover the vast majority of the pregnancy4.
Photo credits: Pexels
Finance Dee is a British-Jamaican living in the SE of England. By day she's a research consultant and by night a finance YouTuber and FIRE blogger