Working out the money that is due to you during and after pregnancy is quite complicated and things can change. For up-to-date advice check with your employer, your trade union or your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Visit the Citizens Advice Scotland website for more information.
Up-to-date advice can also be found at www.gov.uk
Statutory shared parental leave and pay
The mother and the father or partner may decideto share care for the new baby in the first year, and the mother’s entitlement to maternity leave and pay can be shared between them.
The mother must meet the conditions for statutory maternity leave or pay or maternity allowance, and decide to give it up in favour of shared parental leave or pay. The father or partner must meet similar conditions to be entitled to shared parental leave, and must meet the conditions for paternity pay in order to get shared parental pay.
This allows the mother, after taking at least two weeks maternity leave after the birth (four weeks if she works in a factory) to return to work for a period, and share the remainder of the 52 weeks of maternity leave, or 39 weeks of SMP or maternity allowance with the father or partner.
Shared parental leave and pay can be taken in blocks to allow more flexibility ,or at the same time to allow a couple more time together with the baby. For the latest rates and toc heck if you are entitled, go to GOV.UK shared parental leave and pay.
Unpaid parental leave
Both parents have the right to take unpaid parental leave for a child under 18, during which employment rights are protected. You’re entitled to 18 weeks’ leave for each child and adopted child, up to their 18th birthday. The limit on how much parental leave each parent can take in a year is four weeks for each child (unless the employer agrees otherwise).
You must take parental leave as whole weeks (e.g. one week or two weeks) rather than individual days, unless your employer agrees otherwise or if your child is disabled. You don’t have to take all the leave at once. A ‘week’ equals the length of time an employee normally works over seven days. Parental leave applies to each child, not to an individual’s job.
This is payable from the date the baby is born. It is paid by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). If you or your partner earns over £50,000 (individually, not joint income), some or all of your child benefit is paid back through tax.
Child benefit can be paid directly into your bank account or through a Post Office or National Savings account that accepts Direct Payment. A form for child benefit is handed out by the hospital after your child is born - claim within three months. The form is also available online: visit GOV.UK child benefit or phone 0300 200 3100.
Sure Start is a lump sum grant to help with the costs of a new baby if you or your partner are on certain benefits. You do not have to pay back any of this money. Claim your grant using form SF100 which must also be signed by an approved health professional.
You can get the claim form from your ocal Jobcentre Plus office or online at GOV.UK maternity grant. You will probably only qualify for your first child and you can claim at any time from the 29th week of pregnancy until your child is three months old.
The Best Start maternity grant is likely to replace the Sure Start grant at some point, but final details are still to be confirmed. You would still need to be in receipt of a qualifying benefit. Best Start could change the ways grants are paid to be a sum of money when your baby is born as well as amounts when your child starts nursery and school.
Your employer may offer you pay in the form of vouchers for childcare. This may reduce the amount of tax you pay, but you could lose out on help with childcare through tax credits. See GOV.UK childcare vouchers for more details. This scheme will be closed to new entrants in 2017 and replaced by a 'Tax-free childcare' scheme.
If you are pregnant, or have children under the age of 4, and you receive income-related benefits, you could qualify for Healthy Start vouchers to spend on milk, and fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables.
Healthy Start will also give you vouchers for free vitamins for yourself, your baby and any other children you have up to the age of 4. You can ask your midwife for an application form and for help to fill it in. Even if you are already registered, you must phone 0845 607 6823 soon after your baby is born – it’s likely you’ll be eligible for double the amount.
You may also be eligible for child tax credit and working tax credit. Child tax credit is a payment created to support families or individuals with at least one child or young person who they are responsible for. You do not need to have been in work to get child tax credit.
The amount you get depends on your circumstances and income. You may also be entitled to working tax credit if you are in work, including while on maternity leave for 39 weeks.
Working tax credit can include help with childcare costs. Claim within one month of the birth, or you may lose money.
Tax credits are gradually being replaced by universal credit, which includes housing costs, and support for adults and children and childcare costs. If you are already getting universal credit when your baby is born, you claim a child addition in universal credit instead of child tax credit.
If you already have two or more children in your family, and your new baby is born on or after 6 April 2017, you might not get any more child tax credit or universal credit for him or her. Get advice if you are in this situation or visit www.gov.uk for more information.
Free dental care and free prescriptions
Everyone who is legally resident in the UK is entitled to free prescriptions and dental check-ups in Scotland. You are entitled to free NHS dental treatment during your pregnancy and for the first year after giving birth. However, private dentists are not obliged to provide free dental care during pregnancy.
Call the NHS helpline on 0800 22 44 88, or speak to your midwife to find out more.