MATERNITY LEAVE AND MATERNITY PAY
All pregnant women have the right to take at least 26 weeks' maternity leave
which is referred to as "Ordinary Maternity Leave". Some women will
be entitled to a longer period of leave because they satisfy certain qualifying
conditions. This longer period is referred to as "Additional Maternity
It is unlawful to dismiss (or single out for redundancy)
a pregnant employee for reasons connected with her pregnancy. Such treatment
will constitute grounds for automatic Unfair Dismissal and/or Sex Discrimination.
At the end of the maternity leave period she is entitled to resume her normal
job on the same terms and conditions as if she had not been absent. If however,
a redundancy situation has arisen during her Ordinary or Additional Maternity
Leave, or if there is some other genuine reason why her original job is no
longer available at the end of her Additional Maternity Leave, she must be
offered any suitable alternative work that is available at the point when she
wants to return.
Pregnant mothers who have made an appointment to receive
ante-natal care on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, registered
midwife or registered health visitor, have the right (having first obtained
the employer's consent) to take time off with pay to keep the appointment.
The woman must provide evidence of each appointment and, except for the first,
produce a certificate stating that she is pregnant.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Employers should ensure as far as possible that a pregnant
employee notifies the employer as soon as possible that she is aware that she
may be pregnant. This is to ensure that the employer can assess any health
and safety risks to the woman and her unborn child. If any risk is identified,
the employer should notify the woman immediately and make arrangements to eliminate
ORDINARY MATERNITY LEAVE
Pregnant women are entitled to 26 weeks' Ordinary Maternity
Leave regardless of length of service or hours of work. This entitlement covers
time off, both before and after birth. During Ordinary Maternity Leave, the
woman has the right to benefit from her normal contractual terms and conditions
as if she had not been absent - other than for remuneration.
The following information must be notified to the employer
by the end of the 15th week before the Expected Week of Childbirth (“the
EWC”) unless this is not reasonably practicable, failing which, the right
to leave may be forfeited:
- confirmation of the fact of pregnancy;
- confirmation of the EWC;
- confirmation of the date on which the woman intends to
commence Ordinary Maternity Leave (this confirmation must be given in writing);
- if so required by the employer, a certificate from a registered
practitioner or a registered midwife stating the EWC.
The employer must respond to this notification within 28
days of receipt of this information and confirm her expected date of return
to work if she is to take her full entitlement of Ordinary Maternity Leave
and, if applicable, Additional Maternity Leave.
Ordinary Maternity Leave may start at any time after the
beginning of the 11th week before the EWC or in any case the day after the
Premature Birth or Work Absence
It may not be practicable for women to provide the required
notice in advance. If the woman should give birth prior to giving the required
notice she should, as soon as is reasonably practicable, notify the employer
that she has given birth and the date of the birth. Such notice must be given
If the woman is absent from work wholly or partly because
of the pregnancy after the beginning of the fourth week before the EWC, the
maternity leave period will commence automatically. If the woman has not already
provided the required notice she must, as soon as is reasonably practicable,
notify the employer that she is absent wholly or partly because of her pregnancy.
Failure to provide the required notice at the correct time or as soon as is
reasonably practicable thereafter may result in the loss of entitlement to
Ordinary Maternity Leave.
Right to Return to Work Following Maternity Absence
A new mother should return to work on the first working day
after the expiry of the 26 week period. It is not necessary to notify the employer
of her return unless she wishes to return earlier, in which case, no less than
28 days' notice must be given. Should she not give the notice required, the
employer may postpone her return for 28 days or until the expiry of the 26
week period, whichever is the earlier.
Compulsory Maternity Leave
Statute prohibits a mother from returning to work until at
least two weeks after childbirth. The two week period commences with the day
ADDITIONAL MATERNITY LEAVE
A woman is entitled to take Additional Maternity Leave if
- worked continuously for the employer for at least 26 weeks
at the beginning of the 14th week before the EWC;
- provided the information required by the employer for
those women wishing to take Ordinary Maternity Leave (see 2 above).
Additional Maternity Leave may start at any time after the
beginning of the 11th week before the EWC and in any case immediately after
Ordinary Maternity Leave.
Right to Return
Women have the right to return to work up to 26 weeks after
the expiry of the period of Ordinary Maternity Leave. The employer may write
to her to require her to confirm:
- the date of childbirth; and
- whether she intends to return to work after the Additional
During the Additional Maternity Leave, women have the right
to return to work at any time having given no less than 28 days' notice. Should
a woman not give the notice required, the employer may postpone her return
for 28 days or until the expiry of the Additional Maternity Leave period, whichever
is the earlier.
If a registered medical practitioner certifies that the woman
is not capable of work, she has the right to postpone her return from Additional
Maternity Leave by up to 4 weeks after the expiration of the 26 week period
(or the date of return which she notified to the employer, whichever is the
earlier). Likewise, the employer may postpone the date of her return by up
to 4 weeks, provided that the employer notifies her of the reason.
STATUTORY MATERNITY PAY
If a woman stops work to have a baby, she is entitled to
Statutory Maternity Pay (“SMP”) during her maternity leave provided
the following conditions have been met:
- she has been employed by the employer for at least 26
weeks by the end of the 15th week before the EWC;
- she has average earnings at or above the lower earnings
limit for the payment of national insurance contributions for the 8 weeks
before the 14th week before the EWC;
- she has given 28 days' notice to the employer that she
intends stopping work due to pregnancy and to receive SMP;
- she has medical evidence of the expected week of childbirth;
- she is pregnant (or has already given birth) at the start
of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth; and
- she has stopped work (wholly or partly) because of pregnancy.
If a woman is entitled to SMP, the first 6 weeks are payable
at the higher rate, being ninety per cent (90%) of her average weekly earnings.
For the following 20 weeks, she will receive the lesser of ninety per cent
(90%) of her average weekly earnings or the standard rate determined from time