When you are self employed, having a child brings different challenges.
What do you think happens in terms of maternity pay? Well, what happens is that you become entitled to Maternity Allowance. Which is the same as Statutory Maternity Pay. There is no one to top that up when you’re self employed so while many of my employed friends get up to a whole year of full pay whilst on maternity leave, I got four months of Maternity Allowance (and had to beg my mortgage provider to give us a break in that time which has probably damaged my credit rating forever) and then had to go back to work.
I didn’t want to go back to work, but I had to because a) I like our house and b) I like my job and so if I didn’t a) We wouldn’t be able to pay the mortgage (and the four months of arrears) and b) as my “job” is actually a contract there was a (probably small but I didn’t want to risk it) chance that if I didn’t go back fairly swiftly I’d lose the contract and there’d be nothing to go back to.
I got lots of “that’s very young to be leaving him” type comments. They hurt.
Once back at work, F went to a child minder for a few months – who then quit, but that’s another post – and now goes to a local nursery. To help pay for the nursery, my husband’s firm provide a salary sacrifice scheme for childcare vouchers. That’s good for us as it saves on the tax and NI husband pays, and good for them as it reduces their employers NI contributions, and makes a loyal worker out of husband.
However, I am self employed so I am not entitled to childcare vouchers. Nor are any of our childcare costs tax deductible. Even though, without childcare I wouldn’t be able to work.
“Why not just go and get a proper job and be employed?”, you are probably thinking. Because I am good at what I do, and I like it, and there is not a similar job elsewhere. What I do is pretty much unique. Plus being self employed offers me some flexibility. I work four days a week and although I will answer queries on a Wednesday colleagues know if they call me, they might hear F in the background. I only have to commute for two days into London, and I work from home the other two (and sometimes evenings and weekends) so, if I wanted to take the afternoon off and go to the beach with F, I can and no one can tell me not to.