When an employee is pregnant they may be eligible for:
- Statutory Maternity Leave
- Statutory Maternity Pay
- Paid time off for antenatal care
Statutory Maternity Leave is 52 weeks. It’s made up of:
- Ordinary Maternity Leave – first 26 weeks
- Additional Maternity Leave – last 26 weeks
Employees don’t have to take 52 weeks but they must take 2 weeks’ leave after their baby is born (or 4 weeks if they work in a factory).
Start date and early births
Usually, the earliest employees can start their leave is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth.
Leave will also start:
- the day after the birth if the baby is early
- automatically if the employee is off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the week (Sunday to Saturday) that the baby is due
Changing the date for returning to work
Employees must give the employer at least 8 weeks’ notice if they want to change their return to work date.
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is paid for up to 39 weeks.
- 90% of the employees average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks
- £139.58 or 90% of the employees average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks
- SMP is paid in the same way as wages (eg monthly or weekly). Tax and National Insurance will be deducted.
If the employee takes Shared Parental Leave they’ll get Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP). ShPP is £139.58 a week or 90% of the employees average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.
SMP usually starts when the employee takes maternity leave.
It starts automatically if the employee is off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the week (Sunday to Saturday) that the baby is due.
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
To qualify for SMP the employee must:
- earn on average at least £112 a week
- give the correct notice
- give proof you’re pregnant
- have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks up to the ‘qualifying week’ – the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth
Early births or the employee loses their baby
The employee can still get Statutory Maternity Leave and SMP if the baby:
- is born early
- is stillborn after the start of your 24th week of pregnancy
- dies after being born