Have you recently found out you or your partner are expecting?  Or you are thinking about/ trying for a baby and want to work out your entitlements?  Then this is the quick, easy and simple guide to UK maternity rights for you. Written by a HR expert, we cover all the basic need to knows when it comes to maternity.

Informing your employer:

Legally you do not have to inform your work place until at least 15 weeks before the beginning of the week your baby is due, however you might wish to inform them before this, most people find after the first scan a good time, but it is entirely up to you.

Antenatal care:

All pregnant employees are entitled to reasonable time off with pay for antenatal care. Employers do have the right to ask for an appointment card or other documents to show you have attended an appointment if necessary.

An expectant father or partner of a pregnant woman has the right to take time off work to go to 2 antenatal appointments. Other time can be requested by legally it doesn’t have to be paid.

MATB1 form:

Once you receive this from your DR/ Midwife you will need to hand this over to your employer, they will ask for the original so it’s always worth keeping a copy for yourself.

Maternity Pay:

The amount of pay you may receive will be based on your terms and conditions of employment. Your employer may have an enhanced maternity pay package, this should be in your contract.  The statutory maternity pay from 2 April 2017 is £140.98 per week, paid for 39 weeks.

Statutory Maternity Leave:

To qualify for 52 weeks’ maternity leave, made up of 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity leave and a further 26 weeks’ additional maternity leave, you must have been employed continuously for at least 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.

Maternity Allowance:

Women who do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay may be entitled to Maternity Allowance, paid for up to 39 weeks. To qualify, you must have been employed or self-employed for 26 weeks out of the 66 weeks before the expected week of childbirth.

Your time off and payments will depend on the terms of employment, please check your policy and or employment contract.

Returning to work:

After maternity leave, you have the right to return to your original job, however if that is not possible then a similar job on the same terms and conditions should be available. If you are made redundant then you should be offered a suitable alternative role or redundancy pay. Your job will be offered on the same hours, and it is up to you to apply for flexible working if you wish to return to work on alternative hours.

If you want to return earlier than the maximum 52 weeks, you simply need to give your employer 8 weeks’ notice. You don’t have to give your return date before you go on leave, you can wait until after you have the baby if you wish.

Keeping in touch days (KIT days)

During Maternity Leave you may return to work on optional Keeping in Touch (“KIT”) day/s, this needs to be agreed between you and your employer.  Employees can complete up to 10 days’ work during maternity leave without losing any Statutory Maternity Pay. Payment for these days should be agreed before you go into work.

Also during the maternity leave, employees are entitled to benefit from all your normal terms and conditions of employment, except for remuneration.

Paternity leave- Employment rights for fathers

When your partner has a baby then you may be eligible for 1 (ordinary) or 2 weeks’ (additional) paternity leave, depending on if you have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.

Leave must be taken all in one go and must be taken at a maximum of 56 days after the birth. You must give at least 28 days’ notice of when you want to take the time (approximately) off.

Parental leave

All parents who have worked for their current employer for at least one year are entitled to unpaid parental leave. A maximum of 18 weeks can be taken per child, up to the child’s 18th birthday, this leave is unpaid.

Parents are also entitled to a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant.

Shared Parental leave

Allows both parents to share the leave taken up during the child’s first year. One parents leave will stop and the others start, for up to 3 times. Certain eligibility rulings apply such as continuity of employment and earnings tests. Again, for this leave to be paid you will need to ensure you meet certain eligibility criteria.

For more detailed information on your rights and on the above, please refer to the following: