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Statutory Maternity Pay and Leave


How much Statutory Maternity Pay and Leave do I get?
  • Up to 52 weeks Leave

  • 6 weeks’ pay at 90% of your salary

  • 33 weeks of £151.20 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less)

  • 13 weeks unpaid

  • You must take at least two weeks leave (4 if you work in a factory)

  • Maternity leave can start at most 11 weeks before your expected due date

  • Maternity leave must start on the date your baby is born at the latest

  • You get all your normal work benefits while on maternity leave

  • You accrue paid holiday while on maternity leave

Maternity Leave

If you have a job, your employer must allow you time off work to look after your baby. This is called Statutory Maternity Leave.

You must take at least two weeks off work (or 4 if you work in a factory).

You can take anything up to 52 weeks (1 year) off work.

For the first 6 months you have the right to return to the exact same job as when you left. This is called Ordinary Maternity Leave.

For the next 6 months you have the right to return to a similar job with the same pay and conditions. This is called Additional Maternity Leave.

Do I get benefits on maternity leave?

During maternity leave you are entitled to all your contractual benefits

  • Employer and employee pension contributions (during SMP)

  • Any other employee benefits e.g. medical insurance, company car etc.

Do I get holiday on maternity leave?

Yes. During your maternity leave you are entitled to all your contractual benefits including paid holiday. The statutory minimum holiday is 28 days (this includes the 8 bank holidays). Many employers offer more than 28 days holiday, if they do then you are eligible to your normal contractual allowance.

This means that at the end of your maternity leave you will likely have accrued a significant amount of holiday. See our guide to holiday for more information.

Do I get a bonus or commission on maternity leave?

You are entitled to any bonus or commission for:

  • The time before you went on maternity leave

  • The first two weeks of compulsory maternity leave

  • The time after you return back from maternity leave

Bonus payments should be made at the normal time. However, it is often the case that your bonus will be reduced to take into account of the time you were on maternity leave.

Bonus and commission schemes whilst on maternity is a complex area, and you should get professional help. These free services that may be able to help you:

When does maternity leave start?

At the earliest you cannot start maternity leave more than 11 weeks before your expected due date.

The latest you can start maternity leave is the day after your baby is born.

Most women choose to take some time off before their expected due date however, it may be better to use up some holiday rather than start maternity leave early. See our guide to holiday.

When does maternity leave end?

Before you go on maternity leave you must tell your employer when you expect to return to work. You can change your mind whilst on maternity leave, but you must give your employer 8 weeks’ notice before you return.

You will likely have accrued significant amounts of holiday whilst on maternity leave. Many women choose to extend their maternity leave by tacking holiday onto the end of their maternity leave. Make sure you and your employer are both clear on when your maternity leave ends and when you are on holiday. See our guide to holiday for more information.

Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance

Many employers (particularly larger ones) offer maternity pay that is more generous than statutory maternity pay. The first thing you should do is check your employment contract or ask your HR department (or get a close friend to ask for you if you don’t want your employer to know yet that you are pregnant).

Statutory Maternity Pay

Every employer is obliged to offer statutory maternity pay as a minimum. This is:

  • 6 weeks at 90% of your salary

  • 33 weeks at £151.20 per week or 90% of your salary whichever is less

  • 13 weeks unpaid.

  • Use our Maternity Pay Calculator to see how much take-home pay this would give you.

Eligibility

Unlike Statutory Maternity Leave, not everyone is eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay. You can check your eligibility using our Maternity Benefits Eligibility Checker

To be eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay you must:

  • Earn at least £116 per week

  • Have worked for your employer for at least 41 weeks by your expected due date.

Maternity Allowance

If you are not eligible for Maternity Pay then you may be eligible for Maternity Allowance.

You can find out more about Maternity Allowance at https://www.gov.uk/maternity-allowance

Shared Parental Leave and Pay

Shared Parental Leave and Pay allow you to split your maternity leave and pay with your partner.

You can find out more about Shared Parental Leave and Pay at: https://www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay

How to claim maternity leave and pay

You must tell your employer at least 15 weeks before your due date in writing. This letter should contain:

  1. Your name and address

  2. The date you are giving them the letter

  3. Your due date

  4. The date you wish to start maternity leave

  5. The date you wish to return to work

  6. Ask them to write to you to confirm the date you will leave and return and what maternity pay you are eligible for.

If in any doubt you should state you wish to take the full 52 weeks of maternity leave, you can always change your mind later, you just need to give 8 weeks’ notice.

You must also give them your MATB1 certificate – you will be given this by your midwife at your 20-week scan.