Maternity Leave

We are often asked questions about maternity leave so we have produced a quick guide to deal with some of the common questions we are asked.

Maternity Leave Entitlement

A pregnant employee is entitled to 26 weeks ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks additional maternity leave making a total of 52 weeks leave.  Ordinary maternity leave can start any time from eleven weeks before the week the baby is due.

Does the employee have to do anything to be able to take her maternity leave?

An employee has to give notice to her employer on or before the fifteenth week before the week that she expects her baby to be born. The notice must state (1) that she is pregnant (2) the week that her baby is due and (3) the week she plans to start her ordinary maternity leave. The employee can change her mind about the date she wants her to leave to start but she has to give her employer 28 days’ notice of the change.

Within 28 days of receiving notice the employer must write back, informing the employee of her expected date of return.

Does the employee have to give notice of her return date or can she return early?

The employee is not required to give notice of her intention to return if she takes the full
period of her maternity leave entitlement. 

An employee is entitled to return to work early i.e.  before the end of her maternity leave but she must give the employer eight weeks’ notice.

If the employer has not notified the employee of her return to work date (as he is obliged to do), there is no need for her to give any notice of her intention to return, regardless of whether or not she has taken her full maternity leave entitlement.

Maternity Leave Holiday Entitlement

Employees will continue to accrue entitlement to statutory and contractual holiday during maternity leave.

Maternity Leave Entitlements

Employees are entitled to have all of their normal employment benefits while on maternity leave, with the exception of wages or salary. An employee will therefore be entitled to continue to receive all her contractual and discretionary benefits for example, life insurance, medical insurance or permanent health insurance.

Can the employee be required to come into work during her maternity leave?

No is the simple answer. An employer cannot force an employee to work during her maternity leave. Employees are however entitled (but not obliged) to work up to 10 days (‘keeping in touch days’ or ‘KIT days’) during their maternity leave without that bringing their maternity leave to an end.

Returning to Work after Maternity Leave

At the end of ordinary maternity leave the employee has the right to return to her original job. At the end of additional maternity leave the employee has the right to return to her original job or, if this is not reasonably practicable, to a suitable alternative job.

Our experienced employment solicitors advise both employers and employees on all aspects of maternity leave, paternity leave & employment law. If you would like further
information on maternity leave and maternity rights please contact us.

Eastbourne 01323 727321

Hailsham 01323 841481

Polegate 01323 487051

We will maintain complete confidentiality and discretion at all times.