Are you a pregnant employee? here is your essential guide to your maternity rights

Only Employees are entitled to maternity leave under employment law. Once an employee gets pregnant she will be entitled to up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave. The 52 weeks leave is divided into first 26 weeks leave known as ‘ordinary maternity leave’ (OML) and ‘additional maternity leave’ (AML) which is the remaining period of up to 26 weeks. The Additional Maternity Leave starts on the day after the last day of an employee’s Ordinary Maternity Leave.

Statutory Maternity Pay

Although the maternity leave is for 52 weeks, however, you are only entitled to 39 weeks’ statutory Maternity pay at the following the rate

Statutory Maternity Pay2018 to 2019 rate
 weekly rate for first 6 weeks90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings
 weekly rate for remaining weeks up to a maximum of 39 weeks£145.18 or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower


Statutory maternity pay is currently payable to employees with 26 weeks’ service by the beginning of the 14th week before the expected week of childbirth. Partners and parents can share up to 50 weeks of maternity leave and 37 weeks’ maximum pay.

Obligatory Leave

As a pregnant employee, you are obliged to take two weeks’ leave immediately after the birth of your child and your employer is obliged to grant you the obligatory leave.

Notice to Employer

You are required to notify your employer by no later than the end of the fifteenth week before the expected week of childbirth, or, where this is not practicable, as soon as reasonably practicable, you must notify your employer of

  • about your pregnancy;
  • the expected week of childbirth
  • the date on which you intend to start your maternity leave. The request for maternity leave must be in writing
  • at the request of the employer, you must also provide a certificate from your GP or registered midwife stating the expected week of childbirth

Postponement of Maternity leave

You can postpone the start date of your maternity leave by providing at least 28 days’ notice before the date previously notified. If you would like to start your leave early you must give at least 28 days’ notice before the new start date unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so (eg, if the baby is born early). If you fail to serve the correct notice, you may not be able to start your leave on the intended date.

Start of Maternity Leave

You cannot start your maternity leave earlier than the eleventh week before the expected week of childbirth unless the baby is born before the eleventh week.  The maternity leave cannot start later than the birth of the baby.

Practically you can take 11 weeks before the birth of the baby and the remainder after or in any other order keeping the restriction above in mind. You can take any number of weeks which are not greater than 11 before the birth of the baby and the rest after. You can also continue working until the birth of your child and take your all maternity leave after.

It is important to note that maternity leave will be automatically triggered where childbirth occurs before the date you have notified to your employer, or before you could notify a date to your employer.

Additional Maternity Leave (AML)

Additional maternity leave will start on the day after the last day of your Ordinary Maternity Leave period (first 26 months) and continue for up to next 26 weeks from the day it begins. You do not have to inform your employer that you intend take AML when you have provided initial maternity leave notice as stated above in notice to the employer. It is important to note that you are only entitled to 39 weeks statutory maternity pay which effectively means that from week 40 till 52 you are not entitled to any pay.

Sickness after 52 weeks of Maternity Leave

If you are unable to return to work after the expiry of 52 weeks’ leave, you must notify your employer. Normal rules of sickness will apply, and you will be treated as a sick employee like other employees.

For further advice and guidance please contact our experienced Employment and Industrial Relation lawyers for an initial consultation. We work on no win no fee in most of the employment matters.


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