• The law surrounding Statutory Maternity Leave (SML) states that employees who become pregnant in the UK are entitled to Statutory Maternity Leave (SML) of 52 weeks. This is made up of 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave and 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave. An employer will pay the statutory maternity leave but can typically reclaim the payments back from the government.

  • How much maternity leave am I entitled to?

    You have the right to take up to 52 weeks' maternity leave when you are pregnant and have a child.

  • Are any employees exempt from maternity leave rights?

    The only employees who don't have this right are women serving in the armed forces, self-employed women, women in the police force and women usually employed abroad.

  • What is the qualifying length of service for maternity leave?

    You are not entitled to maternity pay if you have been employed by your current employer for less than nine months prior to the date the baby is due.

  • I don't qualify for maternity leave, what is the alternative?

    If you don't qualify for maternity leave, you may be still eligible for Maternity Allowance.

  • Are there any legal minimum periods of maternity leave?

    You must take at least two weeks maternity leave immediately after the baby is born, this is extended to four weeks if you work in a factory.

  • Statutory Maternity Pay: what will I be paid during maternity leave?

    You will receive 90% of your salary for the first six weeks of maternity leave, followed by a maximum of £124.88 a week (from April 2010) for another 33 weeks. This is known as Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).

  • What if I don't want to return to work?

    You can resign during maternity leave. If you do not wish to return to work after maternity leave, you should resign giving the notice period required by your contract of employment. Your SMP will continue to be paid during your notice period. So, for example, if you are on one month's notice you should give notice of your resignation at least a month before the end of your maternity leave. Postpone your notice until the day you are due to be back at work and you may be obliged to work out your notice period, or be in breach of contract.

  • Do I have to repay Statutory Maternity Pay if I resign and don't return to work?

    You do not have to repay Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance (MA) if you resign. If you received salary or pay over and above SMP/MA, it is possible that you will have to repay the additional part of the maternity pay - particularly if this was in your contract or agreed with your employer before you started maternity leave.