Maternity Leave and Entrepreneurs

During my research, I found that the number of women entrepreneurs has significantly increased in the last decade and continues to do so. As a result, I thought I would be able to find a master plan on how women entrepreneurs cope with having children and continuing to operate their businesses. Not so!

Their biggest challenge is the same as any working mother, that is the balance of life and work! The main suggestion for trying to achieve this balance is support from your loved ones and reliable childcare.

Mother’s who have home offices commented that their time could not be shared simultaneously with their children and work. They needed to give a 100% of their attention to their children and 100% to their work and scheduled their time accordingly. Hoping to work while children are napping is a great idea but it doesn’t always work out. They hired babysitters or nannies to take care of the children. They also found that their productivity was better if their offices were located in a removed area of their homes since the children were less tempted to interrupt them. Out of sight, out of mind!

They hired babysitters or nannies since most daycare centres don’t offer childcare for children under the age of one, due to the yearlong maternity leave policy. Most daycares have waiting lists, they recommend finding one that you like and putting your child’s name on their list as soon as you know you are expecting.

In the past, entrepreneurs could not afford to take time off because they were not eligible for Employment Insurance since they did not contribute to EI program. As of January 31, 2010, entrepreneurs (women or men) can choose to remit EI and collect it a full year after registering and contributing to the program. You then become eligible for 15 weeks of maternity leave, 35 weeks of parental leave, 15 weeks of sick leave and 6 weeks of compassionate-care leave.

Keep in mind that you can only cancel your contributions once you are no longer self-employed. It is quite a commitment, especially if you do not intend to work for anyone else. If you register, you will contribute $1.78 for every $100 you earn, up to a maximum of $786.76 of premiums for 2011. You can receive up to 55% of your average weekly earnings to a maximum of $468 per week. The maximum benefits you can receive are $23,400 for the year, which is the equivalent of paying EI premiums for 30 years. Ouch!

If you have employees that can look after your business during your maternity leave, then contributing to the EI program may be an option for you. However, please speak to your accountant before you sign on the dotted line.

If you intend on returning to work shortly after the birth of your child, then the EI program may not be worth the cost.

Achieving the perfect balance is a work-in-progress. Trying to balance all of your different roles of mother, wife, daughter, friend, entrepreneur, employer and so on is extremely difficult. Communicate with family, friends and co-workers and make time for yourself. It is easier said then done when your children are young but when you do get to do it, you will feel re-energized!