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Maternity Pay For UK Maternity Leave

career centre
More information on maternity leave rights, how long you can take, what happens to your job when you come back and what to do if you're refused leave.
Tell your employer at least 15 weeks before the beginning of the week your baby's due. If this isn't possible (eg because you didn't realise you were pregnant), tell them as soon as possible. You need to say:
  • you're pregnant
  • when the baby's due
  • when you want to start your maternity leave (you can change the date later, if you give 28 days' notice)
Your employer might ask for notice in writing. They may also ask for a copy of Form MAT B1, the maternity certificate, which says when the baby's due. Your doctor or midwife will give you a copy of the MAT B1 form after you've been pregnant for 21 weeks, they cannot give this to you any earlier.

Once you've told your employer that you want to take maternity leave, they should write to you within 28 days, telling you the date when your leave will end.
When you can start your leave
You can start your leave any time from 11 weeks before the beginning of the week when your baby's due. If you're off work because of your pregnancy in the four weeks before the expected birth date, your employer can make you start your maternity leave.

You have to take all of your leave?
You needn't take all of your maternity leave, but you must take two weeks (or four weeks if you work in a factory) of 'compulsory maternity leave' after your baby's born.

What happens if you lose your baby?
Provided you meet all the other conditions, you can still take maternity leave if your child is:
  • stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy
  • born alive at any point of the pregnancy
If you're treated unfairly
If you're treated less favourably because of your pregnancy or for taking maternity leave, it may amount to unlawful sex discrimination.

Redundancy and maternity leave
If your employer makes people redundant, they can't use pregnancy as a reason to select you for redundancy over similar employees. If you are being made redundant during your maternity leave you must be offered a suitable alternative job if there is one.
Your terms and conditions during maternity leave
While you're on ordinary maternity leave, you keep your normal employment rights and benefits (apart from wages). This might include any access to a company car or mobile phone that you have as part of your employment contract. If you take additional maternity leave, some contractual rights and benefits (eg company car) can be suspended, although your statutory rights continue.

However, if your baby is or was due on or after 5 October 2008, you keep your normal employment rights and benefits (apart from wages) throughout your ordinary and additional maternity leave.

What happens to your pension contributions when you're on maternity leave?
If your employer contributes to an occupational pension scheme they must carry on making their usual contributions for the whole time you are on ordinary maternity leave or for any time you are receiving any Statutory Maternity Pay or contractual maternity pay. If you normally make contributions to your pension you should carry on doing so, based on the amount of maternity pay that you are getting.

What happens to your holiday entitlement when you're on maternity leave?
You'll still build up all your entitlements to paid holiday during ordinary maternity leave. However, unless your contract says differently, you'll accrue only the statutory minimum (4.8 weeks or 24 days for those working full-time) holiday entitlement during additional maternity leave.

If your baby is or was due on or after 5 October 2008 you will build up all your entitlements to paid holiday throughout your ordinary and additional maternity leave.

You can add holiday to the beginning or end of your leave. You may not be able to carry over untaken holiday entitlement if your maternity leave goes over two holiday years, so it's often best to take this at the beginning of your leave.

Keeping in touch
During your leave it is often helpful to keep in touch with your employer. Your employer is entitled to make reasonable contact with you during maternity leave. This might be to discuss such things as arrangements for your return to work or to update you on any significant changes in the workplace while you've been away, including any opportunities for promotion or job vacancies.

Your maternity leave and pay will normally come to an end when you return to work. However, you are entitled to do up to 10 days work during your maternity leave without losing statutory maternity pay, or maternity allowance if you are getting this instead, or bringing your leave to an end.

These 'keeping in touch days' may only be worked if both you and your employer agree. You cannot work during compulsory maternity leave ie two weeks immediately after you child is born. Although particularly useful for things such as training or team events, keeping in touch days may be used for any form of work and should make it easier to return to work after your leave. You will need to agree with your employer what work is to be done on keeping in touch days and how much pay you will receive.

Becoming pregnant again during maternity leave
If you become pregnant again during maternity leave, you have the right to further ordinary and additional maternity leave.
If you are being denied your rights, talk to your employer first of all. If you have an employee representative (eg a trade union official), they may be able to help.

If this doesn't work, you may need to make a complaint using your employer's internal grievance procedure.
If you're still unhappy, you can make a complaint to an Employment Tribunal.
SMP is paid for a continuous period of up to 39 weeks.
Maternity pay will depend on length of continuous service and conditions of service, for example:

a) A teacher under Burgundy Book (local authority employment) conditions of service with one year or more continuous service by 11th week before the EWC will receive:
  • four weeks' full pay;
  • two weeks' 90% pay;
  • 12 weeks' half pay plus SMP;
  • 21 weeks' SMP;
  • 13 weeks' unpaid leave.

b) A teacher with 26 weeks but less than one year's continuous service by 15th week before the EWC will receive only the statutory entitlement:
  • six weeks' 90% pay;
  • 33 weeks' SMP;
  • 13 weeks' unpaid leave.

c) A teacher with less than 26 weeks' continuous service by 15th week before the EWC will receive:
  • 52 weeks' maternity leave;
  • Statutory maternity allowance (SMA) will be payable if the teacher has been in employment for at least 26 of the 66 weeks ending with the week before her EWC. SMA is £112.75 per week from April 2007. This will have to be claimed from the local Jobcentre Plus office.