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Preparing for maternity leave

What you need to know

 

Preparing for maternity leave (start date, maternity cover, statutory maternity pay)


At what stage do I need to tell my employer when I want to start my maternity leave?

You must tell your employer when you want to start your maternity leave, by the 15th week before the baby is due (that is when you are about six months pregnant). You must inform your employer:
 
  • that you are pregnant, (if you have not already done this)
  • of the week you expect to give birth (expected week of childbirth), and
  • when you intend your maternity leave to start, which cannot be before the beginning of the 11th week before the week you expect to give birth.

It is advisable, but not legally required, to put it in writing so there is a record of having given the right information at the right time.

Do I need to give my employer any documents?

Yes, you must give your employer your MATB1 maternity certificate, which your midwife or GP will give you when you are about 20 weeks pregnant.
 

What will my employer do once I have told them about the start of my maternity leave?

Your employer must tell you the date when your maternity leave will end. Initially this will be 52 weeks after you start your maternity leave, as this is the longest time you can take off, but you can choose to return before then. If you are on maternity leave and make the decision to return to work before the end of 52 weeks you must give your employer 8 weeks’ notice.

Can I change the start of my maternity leave?

Yes, you can change the start date but you must tell your employer 28 days before you want your maternity leave to start. Your employer must then tell you when your maternity leave will end.
 

Can my employer keep asking me to tell them when my maternity leave will start?

Your employer can ask you when you are going to start your maternity leave and it is advisable to be as helpful as you can. If you do not know, explain why. But, you must not be repeatedly asked to give a date before the time you are obliged to provide one; it is potentially discriminatory to do so.

You must tell your employer when you want to start your maternity leave, by the 15th week before the baby is due (that is when you are about 6 months pregnant).
 

What questions can my employer ask about my pregnancy or maternity leave?

Your employer is entitled to ask you:

  • How you are feeling, as this may be necessary to consider health and safety or other adjustments, for example to the hours you work.
  • When you are likely to start your maternity leave and how long you are likely to take; but you should not be forced to make a firm decision before you are ready.
  • When you will take annual leave.
  • When to hold a performance review if this is due during maternity leave.
 

How do I work out my statutory maternity pay?

You can use the online calculator at the UK Government website to calculate your maternity pay.
 

Does my employer get reimbursed for statutory maternity pay?

Yes. All employers can claim back 92% of statutory maternity pay and small employers may be able to claim back 103%. The extra 3% is to cover the administrative costs of paying statutory maternity pay. 
 

Can my employer dismiss me to avoid paying statutory maternity pay?

No. If your employer dismisses you to avoid paying statutory maternity pay, this would be maternity discrimination, or pregnancy discrimination if you are dismissed whilst pregnant. Any bad treatment of you because you are pregnant, on maternity leave, or claiming statutory maternity pay would be unlawful discrimination.

If you are dismissed after the qualifying week for statutory maternity pay (the 15th week before your expected week of childbirth, you are entitled to statutory maternity pay. Your employer must pay it for the full 39-week period.
 

Do I need to tell my employer how long I will be off on maternity leave?

You do not need to say how long you will be off on maternity leave but it will help your employer if you do. If you say nothing, your employer will assume that you will take a full year (52 weeks). If you want to return earlier than one year you must tell your employer 8 weeks before you want to return.
 
  • Further information about statutory maternity leave is available on the NI Direct website
 

My employer has not said anything about cover for my maternity leave. What should I do?

It is not your responsibility to organise cover for your maternity leave, but it would be advisable to discuss it. Provided your employer does not disadvantage you because of your absence, they can choose how best to cover your leave.
 

Can my employer appoint a permanent employee to cover my maternity leave?

Your employer is allowed to appoint someone on a permanent or temporary basis to cover your role. However, you are usually entitled to return to the same job after maternity leave (there are slightly different provisions for return after ordinary maternity leave and additional maternity leave). Similar provisions apply to adoption and shared parental leave.
 

What happens if my maternity cover takes over my job so I cannot return to it?

You are usually entitled to return to the same job. If you are not allowed to return to the same job because it has been taken by your maternity cover this is likely to be maternity discrimination.
 
 
 
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