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Maternity Leave

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maternity leave If you're a working mother you have a statutory right to a minimum amount of maternity leave. Your employer may also offer their own maternity leave scheme.

The basics of Maternity Leave

Statutory maternity leave is for 52 weeks. You may be entitled to receive Statutory Maternity Pay for up to 39 weeks of the leave.

To qualify for maternity leave you must be an 'employee'. (There are three main categories of working individuals: 'employees', 'workers' and 'self-employed'. You're classed as an employee if you're working under a contract of employment. A contract need not be in writing - it exists when you and your employer agree terms and conditions of employment. It can also be implied from your actions and those of the person you are working for. Your contract will normally set out what you're expected to do. You'll usually be expected to do the work yourself - ie you can't send someone else to do your work for you.)

Personalised help

You get personalised help on what you may qualify for by using the Tailored Interactive Guidance on Employment Rights (TIGER) tool.

The tool will produce a personalised statement of the maternity leave and pay that you may qualify for, along with an interactive calendar to help you plan your leave. Please click here.

Company schemes

Your employer may have their own scheme which could be more generous than the statutory scheme. Check your contact of employment or staff handbook for details or ask your employer. Your employer can't offer you less than the statutory scheme.

Qualifying for statutory Maternity Leave

As an 'employee' you have the right to 26 weeks of 'Ordinary Maternity Leave' and 26 weeks 'Additional Maternity Leave' - making one year in total. Provided you meet certain notification requirements, you can take this no matter how long you've been with your employer, how many hours you work or how much you're paid.

Surrogate parents

If you and your husband, wife or partner are having a child through surrogacy you will not normally be eligible for statutory maternity or adoption leave. However you will be eligible for unpaid parental leave once you have got a parental order.

Where to get help

  • The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) offers free, confidential and impartial advice on all employment rights issues. You can call the Acas helpline on 08457 47 47 47 from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Friday. (www.acas.org.uk)
  • Your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can provide free and impartial advice. You can find your local CAB office in the phone book or online. (www.citizensadvice.org.uk)
  • If you are a member of a trade union, you can get help, advice and support from them.

Find out more about returning to work on our website.

*information provided by DirectGov, www.direct.gov.uk, Crown Copyright