New parents are cutting leave short to return to work for money, says study

New research has shed light on the financial difficulties faced by new parents and problems associated with the cost of maternity pay.

The study carried out by money.co.uk – which included 2,000 mums and dads – showed that new parents are returning to work early after maternity and paternity leave as they need the money.

It found that 40% of new parents were forced to cut their leave short because they couldn’t afford the time off work. Likewise, 40% of new mums and dads said the rules surrounding maternity/paternity leave and the associated financial allowances are not fair for new parents.

As much as 21% said it’s impossible to survive on maternity/paternity pay alone – which suggests why returning to work earlier is an essential move.

In terms of the length itself, one in five new mums took half a year or less, due to financial concerns. And a third of new mothers said their maternity leave was shorter than they had planned due to concerns with money.

According to the report, for every one in six couples both parents had to cut short their leave because the reduction in salary meant they couldn’t afford to stay at home with their little one.

It seems the cost of a new baby, generally, is another financial anxiety for parents, with six in 10 parents admitting they underestimated how much it would cost to have a child. Likewise, one in four (26%) said that the cost of having their first child was so financially difficult that they are unlikely to have any more children. 

Salman Haqqi, a personal finance expert at money.co.uk, explains just how maternity and paternity leave is affecting new parents. He says: ‘Taking into account the reduction in their earnings and allowing for any savings they were forced to use to supplement their income, a quarter of new parents say that taking maternity or paternity leave cost them between £5,000 – £10,000.

‘Many parents have said they have been forced to switch to a budget supermarket, use less energy at home, cancel holidays and subscriptions like Sky TV or Netflix in order to manage their finances more economically during parental leave.’

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