advice

your maternity rights
at work

Maternity rights differ from workplace to workplace so it’s important to speak to your HR department. Legally, you’re entitled to a minimum statutory maternity leave – it’s handy to know these numbers before speaking to your boss.

expectant mum knows her statutory maternity rights

maternity facts


  • you can take up to 52 weeks for your maternity leave
  • you must take at least two weeks leave after the birth (4 weeks if you work in a factory)
  • if your baby is early, your leave starts the day after baby is born
  • leave starts automatically if you’re off sick due to a pregnancy-related illness in the four weeks leading up to your due date

your maternity pay entitlement

Statutory maternity pay is paid up to 39 weeks. You’re entitled to 90% of your average weekly earnings before tax for the first six weeks of your maternity leave. After that, you should get £139.58 or 90% of your average weekly pay (whichever is the lowest) for the following 33 weeks. Remember that tax and national insurance will be deducted too. Planning ahead and knowing exactly how much money you’ll have coming in while you’re not working will make the transition from desk to new mum smoother.

do you qualify for statutory maternity pay?

To qualify for statutory maternity pay (also referred to as SMP) you need to have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks and be on your company's payroll 15 weeks before the week of your expected due date. You also need to earn an average of £112 per week and have given your employer notice and proof of pregnancy. If you have any doubts, speak to your workplace’s HR department.

sick leave while pregnant

During your pregnancy you’re legally entitled to time off for antenatal care. Getting doctor’s appointments and routine check-ups in the diary ahead of time will help your workflow run smoothly. If you’re poorly during pregnancy, just follow your workplace’s sickness routine. You’re entitled to sick pay as normal.

It’s your employer’s duty to assess the risks of your job to you and your baby and take reasonable steps necessary for your safety. You should never be pressured into anything that goes against doctor’s orders.

where to get help

Most women find that their employers are fully supportive of their pregnancy, but if you do have problems or are treated unfairly, there are a number of places you can go for advice:

  • citizens advice
  • gov.uk