If your employee is expecting a child, they are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave, no matter how long they have worked for you.

The first 26 weeks is known as ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’, and the last 26 weeks as ‘Additional Maternity Leave’.

Your employee is entitled to several rights during this time and can also request flexible working arrangements if they wish to return to work once the leave has ended.

When can leave be taken?

The earliest leave can be taken is 11 weeks prior to the expected week of birth, considering the baby isn’t born early.

Employees must take at least two weeks after the birth, or four weeks if they are a factory worker.

What is Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)?

Eligible employees are entitled for SMP, which can be paid for up to 39 weeks. This is typically as follows:

  • The initial six weeks: 90 per cent of their average weekly earnings (AWE) before tax
  • The leftover 33 weeks: £156.66 or 90 per cent of their AWE (whichever is lower).

Please note that tax and national insurance need to be deducted.

To calculate a worker’s maternity leave and pay entitlement, you can use the SMP calculator.

Can employers offer extra leave or pay?

Yes, employers can offer more than the statutory amounts if there is a company maternity scheme in place.

It is important to ensure your maternity leave and pay policies are clear and easily accessible.

What happens if the baby is born early?

If the baby is born early, leave will begin the day after the birth.

The child’s birth certificate, or a document signed by a doctor or midwife that confirms the date of birth, must be provided by the employee.

You, as the employer, must then provide written confirmation of the new end date for their leave.

Are employment rights affected?

An employee’s rights, such as the right to pay, holidays and returning to work, are all safeguarded during the maternity leave period.

Additionally, if you cease trading, you must still pay your employee any SMP they are entitled to.

Need advice? Get in touch.