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Returning to work after maternity leave

Returning to work after maternity leave: is it worth it?

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Returning to work after maternity leave: is it worth it?

In this guide we help you with all the important calculations you need to do before returning to work after having a baby.


The decision about whether or not to return to work after maternity leave often hinges on finances. Our budget calculators help you work out what's the best option for your family as your maternity leave draws to a close.

Calculate income and outgoings

Use our returning to work after maternity leave budget plan to help calculate the difference between your income and your total outgoings, including childcare, if you were to go back to work. You can also work out whether you would be able to manage with the costs of bringing up your little one without your monthly salary, or with a reduced amount.

Ask the Which? Money Helpline

If you want to talk through your budget findings with someone and clarify exactly what you are entitled to now you're a family, call Which? Money Helpline. The service is free for all Which? members. Not a member? Sign up for a £1 trial.

Here are the key things to consider in your calculations when deciding whether to return to work after your baby is born:

Income post maternity leave

You need to work out your full salary, not including tax or pension deductions. If you are returning to work part time or on reduced hours, your salary will change. Factor in savings accounts and investments. You need to calculate whether this would be sufficient to cover your monthly outgoings.

Childcare costs and tax credits

Factor in any additional benefits and entitlements, such as child tax credits and working tax credits. If you're entitled to working tax credits, you may be able to get an extra allowance to help towards childcare costs. Read our guide on calculating tax credits to find out more.

You could be entitled to childcare vouchers from your employer. These enable you to pay for your childcare directly from your gross salary, before tax and National Insurance is deducted. Find out more about getting help with childcare costs.

Outgoings post maternity leave

You need to work out what you spend every month on things such as your mortgage, bills, food, going out, petrol and clothes. Remember to factor in the extra cost your baby will add to this when he or she arrives. You then need to work out whether you could pay for this without your salary.

Childcare costs calculator

One of the things you need to do is work out how much it will cost you to go back to work. It's best to try to start researching this as soon as possible. Use this child care costs calculator to help you.