Irrespective of length of service or hours worked, employees are entitled to 26 weeks’ Ordinary Maternity leave and up to 26 weeks’ Additional Maternity Leave, making a total of 52 weeks. Employees also have the right to return to work following this maternity period.
Ordinary Maternity Leave can start at any time after the beginning of the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth (unless the child is born prematurely before that date in which case it will start earlier). Additional Maternity Leave will begin on the day after the Ordinary Maternity Leave ends.
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is paid for a maximum of 39 weeks from the commencement of maternity leave.
Current legislation enables employers to have reasonable contact with an employee during maternity leave. It also gives an employee the option to agree to work for up to 10 "keeping-in-touch" days during their maternity leave should they so wish.
Employees have the legal right to return to work after the birth, irrespective of when employment commenced.
Employees will be entitled to statutory maternity pay if:
- they have been continuously employed for a period of at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week prior to the expected week of childbirth, and
- they have average weekly earnings at or above the limit specified by the Department for Work and Pensions, and
- they have reached the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth or have given birth to a live child prematurely, and
- they provide a copy of the maternity certificate (MATB1).