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Maternity and Holiday

May 2019


What happens with holiday while I am on maternity leave?

You accrue paid holiday on maternity leave just as if you were at work. This also includes bank holidays (there are 8 most years).

For example, your employer gives you the statutory minimum 20 days holiday plus 8 bank holidays and you go on maternity on the 1st January 2020 and take a year of maternity leave. When you came back on the 1st January 2021 you will have accrued 28 days holiday. This is on top of 28 days that you will accrue throughout 2021 (assuming you go back full time).

For the most part this is fantastic news and there are some great options on how you might make best use of your maternity holiday accrual. But first there is one thing to check with your employer:

Carrying over holiday while on maternity leave

Your employer must not discriminate against you while on maternity leave and so you must be given the option to take all your accrued holiday at some point.

However, some employers may insist that you take any holiday in the year in which it was accrued, this might mean taking it before your maternity leave starts. Check with your employer when your “holiday year” starts and ends, it is not always January to December.

As many women want to take at least some time off before their baby is due, if you can’t carry holiday over it can be better to do this with holiday rather than maternity leave. BUT if your baby comes early (whilst you are on holiday) then your maternity leave will start immediately and you won’t be entitled to your holiday back. Keep your legs crossed!

Also remember you are allowed paid time off for ante natal appointments during pregnancy – you don’t need to take holiday for these. See our guide to ante natal appointments here

Make sure you don’t lose your holiday entitlement!

5 Great Ways To Use Your Maternity Holiday
  1. Tack all your accrued holiday onto the end of your maternity, extending the time you have with your baby.

  2. Work a 4-day week, but get paid full time for a year. You will have enough accrued holiday (plus your holiday allowance in the year you return) to take off every Monday for a year!

  3. Combine with your Keep In Touch days to ease back in before maternity ends

  4. Ease back in. Go back to work 2 days a week but get paid for 3 for six months.

  5. Sell your holiday – give your finances a boost after unpaid maternity!

  6. Get creative – just work mornings, a long weekend every month, work in the winter and take the summer off!

Things to consider:
  • All of these require some discretion from your employer. You only have the right to ask for part time work or flexible hours, they won’t always grant it.

  • If you are planning to have another baby quite soon, remember that your second maternity pay will be based on how much you are earning during the crucial months of your next pregnancy. Sticking it out at work between pregnancies can be worth a lot of money if your employer has generous maternity pay.

  • Think about the flexibility of your child care options – many nurseries want you to commit to a regular pattern for at least a month.

  • It’s generally much more enjoyable having time off work in the summer than the winter!

Maternity Holiday and Returning To Work Part Time

If you work part time before you go on maternity leave the holiday you accrue on maternity leave will be in proportion as well.

Even if you intend to go back to work part time after maternity, you should make clear to your employer that you are full time right up until you go back to work.

And remember that you accrue holiday while you are on holiday! If you are planning to tack your accrued holiday onto the end of your maternity leave and then go part time, make sure you go part time at the end of your holiday, not at the end of your maternity leave - it’s worth another 2 days holiday!

Teachers and Maternity Holiday

Teachers are a special case. Read about Teachers on Maternity, Holiday and Shared Parental Leave. This is an area of significant controversy at present so you should consult both your school and your union about what options are available to you.