The Maternity Leave and Pay Lowdown
You're pregnant (insert desired feeling).
Start by checking your company Maternity Leave and Maternity Pay Policy; some companies have fantastic policies, and other are terrible. This brilliant website provides the low down on the top companies by maternity and paternity leave.
If your company does not have a policy, or you just want to know where you stand, check out the below.
Maternity leave and maternity pay are classed as two separate concepts; while linked, they provide different benefits:
Time Period: Maternity Leave is the time you can take off work to look after your child full time; this is capped at 52 weeks; the first 26 weeks are known as "Ordinary Maternity Leave", and the next 26 weeks are known as "Additional Maternity Leave".
You do not have to take the full 52 weeks off but you have to take the first two weeks off after you have given birth (Compulsory Maternity Leave). You have to tell your employer the date you want to start back at work if you don't take the full 52 weeks. If you change your mind during that period, you must give your employer 8 weeks' notice of the return to work date.
When Taken: You can take 11 of those weeks off, the week before the baby is due. The week the baby is due is known as Expected Week of Childbirth. If you don't take off the full 52 weeks you can share some of them with your partner. Check out the government website for Shared Parental Leave and Pay.
If you don't take time off before the baby is born, the leave will automatically start, the earlier of:
- 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
Obligations to tell employer: You have to tell your employer you are pregnant at least 15 weeks before the baby is expected, and you should tell them:
- the date you want to start the maternity leave (you can change this date as long as you provide 28 days' notice)
- the date the baby is due (i.e the expected week of child birth)
Length of Service: It does matter how long you have worked for your employer; you are still entitled to maternity leave
Length of Service: You are entitled to maternity pay IF you have an employment contract with the employer AND you have been with the company 26 weeks (i.e 6.5 months) BEFORE the 15th week before your expected week of child birth. (i.e 10.25 months in total).If you have been at the company the required time you are entitled to maternity pay of 39 weeks.
How Much: 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) is paid for the first 6 weeks, followed by £140.98 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lowest) for the next 33 weeks.
Obligations to tell employer: you should tell your employer:
- the day you want to start your statutory maternity pay: you must give 28 days notice for this date
- proof you are pregnant. This is usually in the form of a doctor's letter of a maternity certificate (MATB1 certificate). Midwives and doctors can issue these 20 weeks before the due date. Proof must be provided 21 days of the statutory maternity pay start date.
- You must earn at least £113 a week to qualify for statutory maternity pay. If you don't you can apply for maternity allowance (see next point)
- If you do not meet one of the criteria above (length of service, minimum earnings etc), you can apply for Maternity Allowance. The eligibility criteria is here
- you must have a relevant employment contract
How to Calculate?
The government maternity leave and pay calculator is a fantastic tool to understand what you are entitled to for time off, and for pay.
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