If you’re pregnant or a new mum and currently working, you might have questions about your rights. We answer questions about when to tell your employer you’re pregnant, maternity leave and taking time off for appointments.
1. When do I tell my employer that I am pregnant?
You must make sure that you’ve told your employer by the time you are six months pregnant at the latest (or at least 15 weeks before your due date).
You will need to provide a MATB1 form which you can request from your midwife or GP once you are 20 weeks.
2. How do I book time off for appointments?
As long as you have been with your employer for 12 weeks you’re entitled to take a reasonable amount of paid time off for pregnancy related appointments. For example, for baby scans or midwife and/or consultant appointments as advised by your hospital.
Your employer is allowed to ask for proof of these appointments. It may also be useful to keep a note of these in work diaries.
Your partner is also entitled to paid time off to accompany you to two of these appointments.
3. What do I need to think about while being pregnant at work?
This will differ depending on what your job is, you may require additional support, an alternate working pattern or job adjustments. For example if you are required to do any heavy lifting or stand for long periods of time, then this may be something that your employer needs to adjust.
Throughout your pregnancy it’s best to communicate regularly with your employer to address any such issues.
Though it’s not a legal requirement to provide, it is reasonable to request a maternity risk assessment. A risk assessment when carried out, will look at your health and safety and the requirements that must by met by you and the employer during your pregnancy.
4. What if I am off sick whilst pregnant?
If your sickness is pregnancy-related you’re entitled to either sick pay from your employer (if this is provided) or what is known as statutory sick pay (£92.05 for up to 28 weeks). This is only available until 4 weeks before your due date. After that, your maternity leave will automatically begin.
If your sickness is unrelated to your pregnancy then you take sick leave as normal in your workplace.
5. How much maternity leave am I allowed?
You are entitled to a maximum of 52 weeks (one year) of maternity leave. The first six months is known as Ordinary Maternity Leave, whilst the second six months is known as Additional Maternity Leave.
You have to take a minimum of two weeks maternity leave after the birth of your baby (or four weeks if you work in a factory).
Remember - you are entitled to a year’s maternity leave regardless of how early your baby is born!
6. How much will I be paid when on maternity leave?
The amount of maternity pay you get changes during your maternity leave and will vary depending on what your employer offers.
The minimum your employer has to pay you is:
Statutory Maternity Leave
Statutory Maternity Pay
First six weeks
90% of your average weekly earnings before tax
The next 33 weeks
£145.18 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less)
The next 13 weeks
Your employer may pay more than this depending on your contract so it is worthwhile checking.
After 39 weeks, your employer doesn’t legally have to pay you anything.
If you decide not to return to work after 52 weeks, you might have to pay back any extra maternity pay you have received from your employer. This means that any pay received from your employer over and above the statutory maternity pay outlined above must be paid back.
7. What if the baby comes early or there is a problem?
You’re entitled to maternity leave regardless of how early your baby is born. So even if you have arranged dates with your employer previously, these can change!
In the very unfortunate circumstances that you experience baby loss after 24 weeks or have a still-birth, you will still be entitled to maternity leave
and protection from discrimination.
If you have a pregnancy loss before 24 weeks, the loss of the baby is treated as a miscarriage by law and any time off you take is treated in the same way as pregnancy related absence.
8. What about keeping in touch with my work whilst I am on maternity leave?
Keeping in touch with your employer can be very helpful for you both. This could be done via emails, text messages or telephone calls. You are also entitled to work up to 10 ‘keeping in touch’ (KIT) days while on maternity leave. These are optional days which can be worked in order for you to remain in contact with your workplace, for example to attend training or a meeting with your team.
These conversations will allow you to keep up to date with your workplace, colleagues and manager; they can also provide you with an opportunity to discuss your return to work, both date and working pattern if you wish to request a change.
Remember, your employer must keep you up to date with any company developments that will affect you, for example redundancy situations, a reorganisation that would impact on your job, the possibility of a pay rise, job opportunity or promotions that you need to apply for.
9. Returning to work
Returning to work can be a huge adjustment following a period of maternity, the best way to approach this is to ensure you are communicating with your employer.
Some things you might want to think about and discuss with your employer are whether you are returning to the same role, or if there been any changes to the management, structure or company.in your absence. On a more personal level you may wish to discuss whether you need time to adjust and if you feel a phased return would help, if this is possible. If you are breastfeeding you might want to ask about facilities for this and for storing supplies. Finally, you may want to discuss options for flexible working and/or childcare.
10. What if I work Zero hours?
While the entitlements outlined above are available for all employees, this differs if you are a casual worker or on a zero hour contracts. Casual workers’ rights are more limited than full and part-time employees, there are times when you will be entitled to maternity.
If you are paid your zero hour contract through PAYE and have any tax or national insurance deducted from your wages, then you qualify for statutory maternity pay (SMP), however to be paid this you need to meet the same criteria as full-time employees including:
- being employed for at least 6 months by the time you are 25 weeks pregnant (i.e. the end of the 15th week before your expected week of childbirth).
- still being an employee by the time you are 25 weeks pregnant.
- you are paid at least £116 (before tax) per week, on average, in the eight weeks (if you pay them weekly) or two months (if you pay them monthly) up to the last payday before you are 25 weeks pregnant
Make sure you know what you are entitled to and where to go for help, there are many sites and helplines out there including:
For general pregnancy and beyond information and details on what to expect
For information in relation to your rights at work throughout your pregnancy and on return
Check out the W.O.R.K campaign for more information about working and your rights at work.
Check out the Ping campaign page for more information about pregnancy and parenthood.