Some financial considerations and tips
It can be challenging to find childcare in Edinburgh. You may have support from local family, but many trainees do not and still make manageable arrangements. If you are looking for a nursery or childminder, some advise looking even during pregnancy (as early as 20 weeks pregnant) or early in your maternity leave. However, do not despair if you have not done so, there is often eventually movement on waiting lists and places can become available unexpectedly. Some nurseries do offer NHS discount, so consider enquiring about this.
If you are planning to return to work LTFT after having a child, consider which days you will need nursery well in advance as these will not be easy to change at short notice.
You may wish to arrange that your child start in nursery or childminder for a short period of time before you return to work to allow them to settle in, and for you to be reassured that your baby is happy and managing. In choosing your childcare setting, consider the shifts that you may be required to work, and the opening hours if you are likely to be doing some or all pickups or drop offs.
Both nurseries and childminders are inspected by the Care Inspectorate, and you can find their reports here: https://www.careinspectorate.com/index.php/care-services. Word of mouth is also invaluable.
You may be eligible for tax-free childcare which can subsidise up to £2000 of childcare costs: https://www.gov.uk/tax-free-childcare.
You can sign up for this in the month before your maternity leave ends.
You may be entitled to this if both parents earn less than £60,000 individually, receiving the full amount if you earn less than £50,000 and a tapered amount in between those thresholds. Be aware of this as your pay increments as you may need to arrange to repay or not claim this, for example, if you move up a pay increment, your banding is increased or you receive back pay for hours monitoring.
Working Two Jobs
If you have a second job, for example with the university, or also locum outwith your department before 26 weeks of pregnancy, you may choose to resume this without cutting short your maternity leave from your usual training post. You may also be entitled to a second allowance of SMP or Maternity Allowance.
You may take up to 5 days per year (or pro rata if LTFT) of carer’s leave if your child is unwell. This is taken for the first day of leave, after which you may either agree with your department that you would take annual or unpaid leave. You may find that your child is ill (often with viral illnesses) more frequently during their initial months in nursery, and that you may acquire those illnesses too.
Some Royal Colleges and Specialty Societies have complicated useful guides for those becoming parents. Some of these include:
• BMA: https://www.bma.org.uk/pay-and-contracts/maternity-paternity-and-adoption/finance/maternity-leave-pay-entitlements-under-the-nhs-scheme
• RCOG: https://www.rcog.org.uk/careers-and-training/training/resources-and-support-for-trainees/advice-and-support-for-trainees/working-during-pregnancy/
• RCSEng: https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/careers-in-surgery/women-in-surgery/parenthood-with-a-surgical-career/
• RCR: https://www.rcr.ac.uk/publication/pregnancy-and-work-diagnostic-imaging-departments-second-edition
• BOA: https://www.boa.ac.uk/static/ca9b2cf3-7f8a-4e12-a4da8784934b181a/09ce16a7-c01b-440f-aa7f55ee8e2619e6/BOA-Guide-Supporting-Trainees-Pregnancy-Maternity-Shared-Parental-or-Adoption-Leave-and-Returning-to-Work.pdf
Generic Resources Relating to Leave Entitlements
• ACAS - https://www.acas.org.uk/time-off-for-parents
• Citizen’s Advice - https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/maternity-and-parental-rights/check-your-maternity-and-parental-rights/
• Pregnant then Screwed - https://pregnantthenscrewed.com/
• Maternity Money (a maternity leave pay calculator) - https://maternity.money/
Payments during Maternity Leave
• Defence Unions
You can suspend membership while you are on maternity leave. You should ensure that you have resumed before your return to work or for KIT days. You should also ensure that your year of training is correct or if you are LTFT as your fees may be reduced.
Your registration fee may be reduced if your income in a 12 month period while on maternity leave is below a particular threshold (£34,000 from 1 April 2023). In subsequent years, there may be an ongoing discount if your income remains below that level (eg if you are working LTFT).
• Royal Colleges/Specialty Societies
In some cases, you may be able to suspend your membership or be eligible for reduced rates while on maternity leave. Certainly the Royal College of Physicians offers discounts to annual membership fees whilst on Mat Leave and this can be arranged by simply emailing them in advance.