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Here’s How Much My Maternity Leave Cost Me

By Eemusings @eemusings
Here’s how much my maternity leave cost me

Can you imagine a guy telling his colleagues that the thing he's most looking forward to in the new year is starting a family?

I've seen this happen (incidentally, he a) left for another company early not long after, and b) is now expecting a baby too - but that's by the by) and you know what, that really stunned me.

I cannot ever, EVER imagine saying the same thing as a woman. It seems too great of a risk.

I saw a tweet ages ago that went something like 'in the old days, men could say they needed a raise so they could start a family".

I suspect if a woman were to pull that the reaction would be quite different. Even though if she was the breadwinner, she would need that raise WAY more than any dude in the equivalent situation.

Who earns what matters. Here's why

For those who say it doesn't who matter who makes more...

  • Let's say he makes $40k.
  • She makes $80k.
  • The time she takes off results in a loss of 2/3 of the household income.

If we reverse that....

  • He makes $80k.
  • She makes $40k.
  • The time she takes off results in a loss of 1/3 of the household income.

I'm terrible at maths but even I can immediately see that's there's a huge, gaping difference there.

Because yes, she's going to need SOME time off to push a mini human out of her body and recover from that process ... even if they elect for him to be the primary caregiver.

I guess ironically, at some income levels this matters less. If you're making a much higher income, your surplus makes it easier to save large amounts to cover those months you won't be earning for.

But for your average middle class couple, this is a pretty major consideration.

How much my maternity leave cost me

I was uber fortunate to have a very generous employer - the company I worked for while pregnant offers 3 months of leave at full pay. (I'd still be there were it not for the mass layoffs that took place shortly before I was due to return to work.) That's super rare, and they were definitely a market leader in regard to this benefit. Very few companies here offer any paid parental leave at all, much less at full pay and for that long. Most people only get the 22 weeks worth of paid government leave that clocks in at something like $480 a week post-tax, maximum.

I wound up taking about 7.5 months off, which included the 3 months of paid parental leave, and another month of annual leave that I'd saved up.

That meant 3.5 months of lost income from my day job, which adds up to over $15k of takehome income.

Add to that over $3.5k in missed superannuation contributions (between my contributions and employer contributions - again, my old employer was very generous on that front) plus any gains that amount would have made in the market.

All up, my brief (by NZ standards) parental leave meant I lost out on nearly $20k. And if I'd worked almost anywhere else, that amount would have probably doubled, as I wouldn't have benefited from any fully-paid leave. Straight up, I wouldn't have been able to take that much time off to stay home with Spud.


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