Before the birth

Parental leave



The information in this guide was last updated on 26/02/2014

There are ways to make your return to work run smoothly – both for you and your family.

Speak to your employer

Discuss the details of your return to work and talk through any changes you might want to make – for example, if you want to change your hours. Working four days a week will take away a slice of your childcare costs, and shorter days might make nursery drop-offs easier. You don't have to do this until eight weeks before your maternity leave is due to end, so there’s plenty of time to think things through.

Nursery and childcare costs

There are a couple of schemes to help with the costs.

  • Childcare vouchers are often offered by employers as a helping hand. Usually you pay for the vouchers out of your pre-tax salary – this means you get a lot more childcare for your money. Ask your employer whether they offer a scheme.
  • Free education hours are available for children aged three or four before they start school for real. Each child gets 15 hours a week at a playgroup, nursery or registered child minder.

Waiting lists for nurseries and child minders can be very long, so it’s never too early to apply for a place. Many people put their names down just a few weeks or months into their pregnancy.

Saving for children