In a bid to highlight the unrealistic expectations of what women are expected to live on whilst on maternity leave, new data from Officeology has revealed how much money on average women will lose, pre-tax, based on yearly salaries. 

With Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) only paying women 90% of their Annual Weekly Earnings (AWL) for the first 6 weeks, and then dropping to £172.48 or 90% of their AWL (whichever is lowest) for the following 33 weeks, it means, if like the majority of women, they take up to a year off, women have to go 13 weeks unpaid.

The research looked at the average full-time yearly salary across 18 industries  and calculated how much women would lose out on a year if they were on SMP for the full 52 weeks.

Salary loss whilst on maternity leave

Industry Ave. Yearly Salary Total pay received whilst on maternity Decrease in yearly salary
Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply 45,770 10,444.86 35,325.14
Financial and insurance activities 43,710 10,230.84 33,479.16
Mining and quarrying 43,091 10,166.64 32,924.36
Information and Communication 42,071 10,060.74 32,010.26
Professional, scientific and technical services 38,700 9,710.64 28,989.36
Construction 36,259 9,457.20 26,801.80
Public administration and defence 35,829 9,412.50 26,416.50
Education 34,713 9,296.64 25,416.36
Transportation and storage 34,028 9,225.48 24,802.52
water supply; sewage, waste management and remediation activities 34,010 9,223.62 24,786.38
Manufacturing 32,770 9,094.86 23,675.14
Real estate activities 30,095 8,817.06 21,277.94
Human health and social work activities 30,038 8,811.12 21,226.88
Administrative and support service activities 29,105 8,714.58 20,390.42
Arts, entertainment and recreation 28,106 8,612.94 19,493.16
Wholesale and retail trade: repair of motor vehicles 27,864 8,585.40 19,278.60
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 27,300 8,526.84 18,773.16
Accommodation and food service activities 22,964 8,076.54 14,887.46

A significant blow for working mothers

For those who are on just under £23,000 a year, which is the average yearly wage for people working in the accommodation and food service industries, they can expect to lose around 65% of their wage, receiving around only £8,000 for the year to live on whilst on Maternity Leave.

As the yearly salary increases, the amount lost by being on maternity leave increases , with those earning £34,000 looking to forfeit approximately 73% of their annual earnings.

What can employers do to help?

According to Adam Butler, workplace solutions expert and CEO of Officeology, there are a few measures employers can put in place to support employees before, during and after maternity leave:

  • Accommodate employees as soon as they announce their pregnancy:
    • Provide paid leave for appointments (e.g., ante-natal classes, scans).
    • Reduce their workload to alleviate overwhelm and avoid worries about taking time off for medical appointments.
  • Maintain employee wellbeing and create a positive work environment during pregnancy.
  • During maternity leave, establish a realistic financial support policy:
    • Ideally, extend the 90% pay entitlement beyond the initial 6 weeks.
    • Alternatively, allow employees to accrue and use annual leave days during their absence.
  • Extend paternity leave for fathers and offer full pay or 90% of pay:
    • Extend paternity leave to at least one month to support partners and bonding with the newborn.
  • Implement post-maternity return-to-work processes:
    • Offer flexible working options for parents to balance work and life without reducing hours.
    • Avoid penalising employees financially for choosing part-time work to retain staff in the long term.

Adam Butler concludes:

[These strategies] will help your employee avoid any feelings of overwhelm while they navigate through a new time for them, as well as reducing any worry they may have around asking for time off work to attend hospital appointments. From an employer’s perspective, this will help to maintain the wellbeing of your staff, and ensure a positive work environment for them while they are pregnant.

Adam Butler, CEO of Officeology

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.