Taking maternity leave


If you are working as an employee and become pregnant, the law gives you certain statutory maternity rights. You have statutory maternity rights to take paid time away from work in order to have your baby (this is known as statutory maternity leave).  In this case, your employer has to comply with the law and ensure that you are remunerated throughout your leave, that you continue to benefit from any other rights you had under your existing employment contract, and that your job is still available when you return (should you choose to return to work after having your baby).

However, in order to make sure that you are able to benefit from statutory maternity leave, you must give notice to your employer no less than 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth.

  • How much time off are you allowed?

The ‘ordinary maternity leave’ is a period of up to 26 weeks.  However if you have been in continuous employment with your employer for the past 6 months you are entitled to ‘additional maternity leave’ which is another 26 weeks.

  • Statutory Maternity Pay

You are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) for the first 18 weeks of your maternity leave.  The SMP entitlement is 90% of your existing salary (at the time you became pregnant) for the first 6 weeks of your leave, and £100 per week for the next 12 weeks.

  • Maternity leave and discrimination

The law makes it very clear that employers cannot discriminate against women who are pregnant.  If the principal reason for an employee dismissing an employee is that they are pregnant, this will be a case of automatic unfair dismissal and the employer will have to pay compensation for which the employee can take legal action against the employer (for more information, please see our Unfair Dismissal section).

If you would like to speak to a solicitor about your statutory maternity rights, or if you are concerned that you are being discriminated against, Caven can put you in touch with a specialist Employment Solicitor in your local area free of charge so please call us at 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.

0808 1593 553
or fill in the form below
Our trained advisor contacts you
Your chosen specialist solicitor calls you
Quick enquiry form