Maternity leave and pay
Statutory Maternity Leave is 52 weeks. It’s made up of:
- Ordinary Maternity Leave - first 26 weeks
- Additional Maternity Leave - last 26 weeks
You don’t have to take 52 weeks but you must take two weeks’ leave after your baby is born (or four weeks if you work in a factory).
Usually, the earliest you can start your leave is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth.
Leave will also start:
- 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 (Sunday to Saturday) that your baby is due
You must give your employer at least eight weeks’ notice if you want to change your return to work date.
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is paid for up to 39 weeks. You get:
- 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first six weeks
- £140.98 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks
SMP is paid in the same way as your wages (for example monthly or weekly). Tax and National Insurance will be deducted.
If you take Shared Parental Leave you’ll get Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP). ShPP is £140.98 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.
SMP usually starts when you take your maternity leave.
It starts automatically if you’re off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the four weeks before the week (Sunday to Saturday) that your baby is due.
To qualify for SMP you must:
- earn on average at least £113 a week
- give the correct notice
- give proof you’re pregnant
- have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks up to the ‘qualifying week’ - the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth
You can’t get SMP if you go into police custody during your maternity pay period. It won’t restart when you’re discharged.
You can still get Statutory Maternity Leave and SMP if your baby:
- is born early
- is stillborn after the start of your 24th week of pregnancy
- dies after being born