Who is entitled to take maternity leave?
Most women employees are entitled to take time off work to have a baby. This time off is called maternity leave. It is your right to take maternity leave no matter how long you have worked for your employer. If you are in one of the following jobs, some of the information in this fact sheet may not apply to you. You will need to check your contract of employment to see what maternity rights you have at work. This applies to: 1
women in the police force (not civilian employees)
women in the armed forces
How much maternity leave can you take?
Most women have the right to take up to 52 weeks' maternity leave. This does not depend on how long you have worked for your employer. The first 26 weeks of maternity leave are called Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML). During OML, you will still get all the same rights under your contract of employment as if you were still at work. The only exception is that you will not get your normal pay unless your contract allows for it. You can also take an additional 26 weeks' maternity leave called Additional Maternity Leave (AML). This makes a total of 52 weeks' maternity leave. Again, this doesn't depend on how long you have worked for your employer. If you're taking AML, this must follow on directly after Ordinary Maternity Leave and there must be no gap between the two. Directgov has an interactive calculator which helps you to calculate what maternity leave you are entitled to. Go to www.direct.gov.uk. Your contract of employment may give you extra rights to maternity leave, but it can't give you less than the law allows. If your contract says you have fewer rights than the law allows, you'll still be entitled to take the maternity leave described above. When maternity leave begins and ends
You can begin your maternity leave at any time from the 11th week before your baby is due. If you want, you can work right up to the day your baby is born. If you have an illness that's connected to your pregnancy in the four weeks before the baby is due, your maternity leave may have to start from that date. If you are taking Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML), it will finish at the end of the 26th week after it began. If you are taking Additional Maternity Leave (AML), it will finish at the end of the 52nd week after it began unless you've agreed a different date with your employer. You don't need to tell your employer that you are returning to work unless you want to return earlier. You must give your employer at least eight weeks' warning if you want to return to work earlier than the agreed date. When to tell your employer you want to take maternity leave You must tell your employer, by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due, that: 1
you are pregnant
the date your baby is due
the date you want your maternity leave to start.
You must give your employer a medical certificate called a MATB1. You can get this from your midwife or GP. It gives the date your baby is due. Once you have told your employer that you want to take maternity leave, they must write to you within 28 days and tell you the date you should come back to work. Pay during maternity leave
If you have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks at the beginning of the 15th week before your baby is due, you may qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). To get SMP you must also earn at least £97 a week. You can get SMP even if you do not return to work after having your baby. You can get up to 39 weeks' SMP. SMP is the minimum amount you should be paid, but your contract of employment may entitle you to more than this. Check your contract to see what you are entitled to. If you don’t qualify for SMP, you may be entitled to Maternity Allowance (MA). This is paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). You will qualify for MA if you earn an average of £30 per week or more. You must also...