Should My Husband Donate To My Pension While I’m On Maternity Leave?

"This baby was a joint decision, it was not a financial burden for me to carry alone."
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When planning to have a baby, there are a lot of things to take into consideration. Is your home suitable for a baby? Do you feel emotionally and financially prepared?

One listener of the Financielle podcast, The Vault With Financielle, had her own concern, and it’s one that is rarely discussed.

The listener said: “I’m currently on maternity leave, which of course means I’m not earning my usual income and cannot contribute to my pension as I normally would.

“After listening to the podcast, I’ve asked my husband to help by paying into my pension during this period, but he’s resistant to the idea. Instead, he insists that when we retire, he will share his pension with me.”

The listener went on to say that while she appreciates her husband’s offer, she feels that not paying into her pension directly leaves her financially insecure in the future.

Should partners pay into pensions during maternity leave?

HuffPost UK spoke with BBC finance expert and Financielle co-founder Laura Pomfret who said that when she and her husband were planning a baby, they were also planning their financial future.

Pomfret said: “With a poor maternity pay policy and months of unpaid pension contributions ahead we knew we needed a plan to combat our upcoming financial shortfalls... repeat OUR.

“This baby was a joint decision, it was not a financial burden for me to carry alone.”

Pomfret went on to say that the couple budgeted for their fixed expenses such as mortgage, council tax and household bills and, you guessed it, her lack of pension contributions during maternity leave.

Pomfret said: “Many women and families don’t consider this to be an issue but during this time women are missing out on 3 types of contributions into their pension, contributions from themselves, their employer and the Government - that’s free money left on the table that then has an opportunity to compound.

“If you have more than one child you’re potentially missing 2 years of pension contributions along with the free government top ups.”

On the podcast, the hosts said that if both pensions aren’t being contributed to, then the household overall suffers and there are no added benefits for either of them.
They added: “We have to start representing the fact that it’s important that a woman builds her own pension, and that as a couple, you do well out of it. Banking on a pension is just really stressful.
“If you’re not married, you’re not entitled to a partner’s pension and we’ve seen scenarios where people are banking on that and then a separation happens or even a death happens and if you’re not married, literally not entitled to it.”
They added that relying on the pension is unwise as it could be unsafe, it could be worth far less in the future, or some people even reject the pension in a separation in favour of the house or holiday home.
The hosts recommend starting a self invested personal pension, which the couple can pay into just like any other bill. Additionally, they said that the couple need to reframe it as something they are doing as a unit and not something he is doing for his pregnant wife.
We need to discuss this more openly

Speaking about the podcast episode with HuffPost UK, Pomfret said there is an urgent need for couples to discuss this more openly and frankly.

The financial expert said: ”[We had] hundreds, if not thousands of misogynist comments implying that the woman writing in voicing her concern that her husband refused to pay into her pension was a gold digger, that she’s planning to leave him, that her only job on this earth is to bear children so she should be happy with her lot.

“Many are too unpleasant to print but you get the gist. Heartbreakingly, many of the men replying to the dilemma had profile pictures with their wives and daughters.”

Disappointing, but not entirely surprising, really.

Pomfret said that a lack of financial education is to blame for this imbalance, saying: “We live in a society that is still so behind when it comes to financial education and a true understanding of the gender finance gaps that exist.

“If more families and couples had open conversations when considering children, we’d have many more financially well families not leaning on credit to fund maternity leave and many more women retiring with pension pots that can sustain them.”