Navigating Maternity Leave: Your Rights and Options

Welcoming a new baby into the world can be exciting and daunting all at the same time. There are lots of things you need to do to prepare for your new arrival and one of those things is sorting out your employment and understanding your rights and options when it comes to maternity leave and pay in the UK. 

This blog post will guide you through the key government schemes and laws surrounding pregnancy and maternity leave to ensure a smooth transition into parenthood.

Statutory Maternity Leave: Your Time Off

In the UK, working individuals are entitled to the following time off:

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

While on maternity leave, you may be eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). This is paid for by the government to help replace your income while you are off bonding with your baby. 

Statutory Maternity Pay is split into the following:

There are various different criteria to be able to qualify for Statutary Maternity Pay. If you are unsure if you qualify, please click here.

Some employers pay enhanced maternity pay, so check with your employer if you are able to get more than the statutory minimum.

Adoption Pay

If you’re adopting a child in the UK, you may be entitled to statutory adoption pay (SAP) from your employer for up to 39 weeks. The amount you receive depends on your earnings and works out the same as Statutory Maternity Pay. 

Statutory Paternity Pay

New fathers (or partners of mothers giving birth) can receive statutory paternity pay, allowing you to take 1 or 2 weeks off work and get some financial support. The pay is the lower of £184.03 per week (as of April 2024) or 90% of your average weekly earnings. It’s worth checking with your employer though, as some companies offer enhanced paternity pay beyond the statutory amount.

Maternity Allowance for self employed people

You can get Maternity Allowance for up to 39 weeks if you’ve been either:

You can get between £27 to £184.03 a week for up to 39 weeks if you’re self-employed. How much you get depends on how many Class 2 National Insurance contributions you’ve made in the 66 weeks before your baby is due.

To get £184.03 per week you must have:

To check if you’re eligible for any of the above payments, please fill out this online calculator.

Your Rights During Leave

Your employment rights are protected while on maternity leave. You are treated as if you are still an employee that is working your regular hours. This includes:

Paid time off for antenatal appointments

Your employer must allow you reasonable paid time off to attend your antenatal appointments, if they cannot be made outside of working hours.

Flexible working

You have the right to request flexible working arrangements after your return from maternity leave to be able to meet childcare needs.

When do you need to tell your employer about your pregnancy?

By law, you don’t need to tell your employer you’re pregnant until you are 25 weeks pregnant. However, it’s best to tell them as soon as you feel comfortable, especially if you work in a job where health and safety is a big part, and you are unable to carry out tasks due to your pregnancy. 

If you are an employer and are unsure of what you need to do to support your employee through pregnancy, maternity leave and returning to work, the Turas Accountants team are on hand to guide you through the process. 

Please get in touch with us here for more information on how we can help you.