If you are an employee, you qualify for 52 weeks of statutory maternity leave no matter how long you have worked for your employer, how many hours you work or how much you are paid.
(However, not all employees qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay.)
At least 15 weeks before your baby is due, you must tell your employer (preferably in writing) that:
• You are pregnant
• When the baby is due
• When you want to start your maternity leave
(you can change the date later, if you give at least 28 days' notice.)
You should also pass on your MATB1 form that your midwife gives you around week 21 of your pregnancy.
Your employer should then write to you confirming your maternity leave dates and they may also give you an idea of your maternity pay if applicable.
You can start your maternity leave from 11 weeks before your baby is due (unless your baby is very premature in which case it will start the day after the birth).
If you are off work with a pregnancy related illness in the last 4 weeks before your baby is due, your employer can make you start your leave then.
The 52 weeks are divided into 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave and 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave.
After your Ordinary Maternity Leave, you have the right to return to the same job.
After Additional Maternity Leave you have the right to return to the same job, or to another suitable job if that is not reasonably practicable.
While you are on maternity leave, you continue to accrue holiday as if you were at work. If your employer allows, it’s a great idea to tag a week or two to the beginning and end of your maternity leave.
A fantastic tool for working out maternity leave dates (and for getting an estimate of your SMP) can be found at:
If you have a question, please do leave a comment!