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Maternity Q&A PDF Print E-mail

Q. Are all employees entitled to Maternity leave?
A. Any pregnant employee may take 52 weeks leave regardless of their length of service. If they wish to return before the end of the 52 weeks they must give the employer 8 weeks notice.

Q. What about Maternity pay? How long does the employee have to have worked with the employer before she becomes entitled to SMP?
A. In order to qualify for SMP, the employee cannot be pregnant when she starts her new employment. She qualifies for SMP if she has been in the same employment for 26 weeks (i.e. six months) prior to the "notification week". The "notification week" is 15 weeks before the baby's due date.

Q. What is the amount of SMP?
A. The first 6 weeks are at 90% of the employee's average gross weekly earnings. The remaining 33 weeks are at the current SMP rate (please refer to the rates and thresholds page for up-to-date rate), or 90% of the employee's average gross weekly earnings, whichever is lower.

Q. Is it reasonable to expect a part-time employee to attend antenatal classes in her own time?
A. She is entitled to paid time off to attend appointments made on the advice of her midwife, health visitor or GP. Except for the first appointment she must be prepared to show the employer the appointment card. She may not be able to arrange appointments on the days of her choice in which case she must be allowed to attend and be paid.

Q. If the pregnant employee is still in her probationary period and the employer is not happy with her as she has had several days off already, can they legally dismiss her?
A. If the sickness is related to her pregnancy then it would be unlawful to dismiss her and the employer could be at risk of a sex discrimination claim. The best approach here is to discuss with her the reasons for her absence, explain the importance of reliability and see how her attendance can be improved.

Q. What are 'Keeping in Touch Days'?
A. The Government have recently introduced 10 'Keeping in Touch Days' which means the employee may work for up to 10 days without bringing her Maternity leave to an end or losing her SMP or MA. This is to enable her to keep in touch during her leave if she wishes to. They can be used for any work related activity. Working for part of a day will count as one day's work. Employers now can also make reasonable contact during Maternity leave, for example, to discuss the employee's return to work. Any work during maternity leave must be by agreement and neither the Employer nor the Employee can insist on it.

Q. Does the employee qualify for holiday while she is on maternity leave?
A. Holiday entitlement is accrued as normal throughout the maternity leave (including bank holidays) and is at the employers expense. The only occasions where this may not be payable is if the employee is either made redundant or resigns as she goes on maternity leave.

If you have more questions relating to maternity, please send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and we'll ensure to update this section.