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Everything You Need To Know About Maternity Leave and Pay

Recently found out you’re expecting a little one? Congratulations! If you want to find out more about your maternity rights at work, this article outlines what you need to know about maternity leave and pay.

Maternity Leave

When you take time off to have your baba you should be entitled to Statutory Maternity Leave. Statutory Maternity Leave is 52 weeks. It’s made up of:

  • Ordinary Maternity Leave – first 26 weeks

This is the first six months – or 26 weeks. If you return to work during this period, you have the right to return to exactly the same job that you had before you took maternity leave with the exact same roles and responsibilities.

  • Additional Maternity Leave – last 26 weeks

This is the second six months and this affects what rights you have when you go back to work. If you take more than six months’ leave, you have the right to return to the same job unless it's no longer available. In this case you must be given a similar job with the same pay and conditions.

You don’t HAVE to take 52 weeks but you must take 2 weeks’ leave after having your little one (or 4 weeks if you work in a factory).

Usually, the earliest you can start your leave is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth.

Leave will also start:

  • the day after the birth if the baby is early.
  • automatically if you’re off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the week (Sunday to Saturday) that your baby is due.

Statutory Maternity Pay

So what should you expect to get paid whilst on maternity leave?

Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for up to 39 weeks and after that your employer doesn’t have to pay you anything.

You will receive:

  • 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks
  • £139.58 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks.

Maternity Pay is paid in the same way as your wages (eg monthly or weekly). Tax and National Insurance are still deducted.

Who’s eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay?

To qualify for SMP you must earn on average at least £112 a week and give the correct amount of notice to your employer.

You should have worked for your employer continuously for 26 weeks up to the 15th week before your expected week of childbirth.

If you aren’t eligible for SMP then you might be able to claim Maternity Allowance. You can find more info here.

How do I claim my Maternity Leave & Pay?

Maternity leave

At least 15 weeks before your due date, tell your employer when your baby is due and when you want to start your maternity leave. Your employer might ask for this in writing.

Your employer must write to you within 28 days confirming your start and end dates.

Maternity Pay

To ensure you get your maternity pay, you should tell your employer exactly when you want to stop work and the day you want your maternity pay to start. You must give them 28 days notice.

To claim your maternity pay you must also provide proof of pregnancy.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t involve providing a positive pregnancy test! A letter from your doctor or midwife should do the trick (also called a MAT B1).

Your employer will have to confirm within 28 days how much maternity pay you’ll get and when it'll start and stop.

This information was taken from Gov.UK – you can find out more here.

Please read my post on the Sure Start Maternity Grant to see if you’re eligible.

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