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Maternity Leave

If an employee tells her employer she is pregnant, which she must do by the 15th week before her baby is due, the employer must:-

  • carry out a risk assessment to identify any risk to the employee’s health or that of her child. If there is a risk, the employer must remove it or make alternative arrangements.
  • allow the employee paid time off to attend ante-natal appointments. Employers are entitled to ask for sight of her appointment card to confirm dates and times.
  • make sure that the employee is not treated unfairly, including unfair treatment by other colleagues or clients.
  • write to the employee within 28 days of being told, informing her when her maternity leave will end.

Unfair treatment connected with pregnancy, maternity leave or child birth could lead to a sex discrimination claim. Pregnancy cannot be used as a reason to select an employee for redundancy. See our page on redundancy for more information.

All pregnant employees can take up to 52 weeks' maternity leave. She does not have to take all her maternity leave, but must take two weeks (or four weeks if employed in a factory) of compulsory maternity leave after the baby is born. She can still take maternity leave if the baby is unfortunately stillborn after 24 weeks' of pregnancy. If she is still at work when the baby arrives, the maternity leave starts from the baby’s birthday.

Whilst on Maternity Leave

An employee:-

  • keeps her normal employment rights and benefits (apart from wages) for ordinary maternity leave. During additional maternity leave, some contractual rights and benefits can be suspended.
  • still accrues holiday entitlement, although, depending on her employment contract, may only accrue the statutory minimums during additional maternity leave.
  • is entitled to keep in touch with her employer.

Employers are entitled to make reasonable contact with an employee on maternity leave.

Keeping in Touch Days

An employee is entitled to do up to 10 days' work, called Keeping in Touch days, without losing maternity pay or bringing maternity leave to an end. Keeping in Touch days may only be worked with the agreement of the employer and she need not do her usual job during Keeping in Touch days.

However, an employer is not obliged to offer Keeping in Touch days and neither is an employer able to demand an employee on maternity leave goes into work.

Returning from Maternity Leave

An employee returning from maternity leave is entitled to return to the same job on the same terms and conditions of employment. If that is not reasonably practical, she is entitled to return to a suitable job on terms and conditions at least as good as her previous job.

If an employer takes on a temporary member of staff and the employer expects their employment to end when the original employee returns, the employer must tell the temporary employee at the start of their temporary employment.

A returning employee is entitled to make a request for flexible working. Please see our flexible working requests page for more information.

Paternity Leave information can be found here

If you would like further advice on maternity leave, managing pregnant employees or flexible working requests, please contact Ashley Hunt, Carrie-Ann Randall or Vaishali Thakerar on 0116 212 1000 or complete the form on the right.