No one told me about the hidden costs of maternity leave

When I got my job as a post-doctoral research associate, funded by a prestigious grant for medical research, I was in my 30s and trying for a baby.


A quick look at the grant’s website suggested that parental leave would be covered. The phrasing made it seem as though it would all be neatly accounted for, and to an extent it was. As far as individual research staff are concerned, UK research councils have clear and easy-to-use procedures for extending grant deadlines or using funds to pay for maternity leave or cover. On the surface, everything looked positive. 


It was only after I became pregnant that I began to realise what wasn’t covered. The provisions for my maternity leave only automatically covered my salary costs. The life of the grant could be extended, but the total amount of money would stay the same. In principle this is fine, if you imagine that when someone goes on parental leave all their research stops dead and sits in a quiet, cost-free hiatus until they return.


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