All pregnant employees can take up to a year of Statutory Maternity Leave. It doesn’t matter how many hours you work or how long you’ve worked for your employer. This time off will be divided into:
- Ordinary Maternity Leave – the first 26 weeks off
- Additional Maternity Leave – the last 26 weeks off
You don’t have to take the whole year off. But do you have to take at least 2 weeks off after your baby is born (or 4 weeks if you work in a factory).
You can take time off from 11 weeks before the week your baby is due. At least 15 weeks before the week your baby is due, let your employer know you’re pregnant. Tell them when you want to start and end your maternity leave (you can change this later).
While you’re off on maternity leave, your rights at work are protected. This includes your right to:
- Come back to exactly the same job if you come back after 26 weeks
- Be offered a job with a similar status and pay if you take more than 26 weeks off (but less than a year)
- A pay review
- Your employer’s pension contributions
- Build up holiday leave
- Be told about changes that affect you, such as restructuring or possible promotion
Your employer can contact you about work while you’re on leave, but only if it’s reasonable to do this. You might want to agree in writing how often they can contact you before you go on leave. You can also choose to do up to 10 days of paid work without interrupting your leave. These are known as ‘keeping in touch’ days.
You can learn more about pregnant employees’ rights on gov.uk – and check what time off and pay you’re entitled to. Maternity Action also has lots of useful information for expecting and new parents, including a free advice line.
Shared Parental Leave
You may be able to share up to 50 weeks of paid parental leave with the baby’s other parent, even if you don’t live together. You can end maternity leave early and share time off with your child’s other parent. This helps you be more flexible in looking after your child during their first year.
You may decide to take it in turns to take time off to look after your child. Or you might want to be off work at the same time.
You can take this type of time off if one parent is entitled to maternity leave and the child’s other parent is an employee earning over a certain amount
Working this out can be complicated. Use the Shared Parental Leave calculator on gov.uk or talk to us for advice.