A Quick Guide to Maternity Leave

A Quick Guide to Maternity Leave

September 2014

It’s so exciting when you see that line in the box or that magic digital word ‘pregnant’. Once the shock/nerves/giddiness/jumping for joy has died down there are a few things to sort out. If you’re working, you may find it helpful to know the basics of your maternity leave rights and requirements sooner rather than later. This week’s blog gives you some helpful tips and links for further information.

You only need to give notice to your pregnancy to your employer by the end of the 15th week before you baby is due, so around 25 weeks of pregnancy.  Having said that, you may well find it helpful to let them know before, so you can benefit from time off for antenatal appointments (which your Employer is obligated to give you) and other health and safety care.

Once you have informed your employer you have to confirm when you want to take maternity leave. The earliest date you can do this is 11 weeks before your baby is due. Some mums-to-be like to leave it later so they have more time to spend once baby has arrived.

Statutory Maternity Pay:

Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for 39 weeks. For the first six weeks, you receive 90% of your average wage. After that, you receive a standard rate for 33 weeks, which is £138.18 per week, or 90% of your average earnings (whichever is lower). Some employers are more generous than this and will give 90% of your income for longer or (for the lucky few) full pay for a few months. Check your work manual for further information or contact your HR Manager/Line Manager to find out what you are entitled to.

You are entitled to SMP if:

·        You have worked for at least 26 weeks by the end of the qualifying week (i.e. by the end of the 15th week before the week the baby is due) - as a rough guide, this means you must have started working for your employer before you got pregnant.    

·         You have been paid on average an amount which at least equals the Lower Earning Limit (£111 per week if the end of your qualifying week is in the 2014-15 tax year) which applies on the Saturday at the end of your qualifying week

·         You provide a MATB1 certificate to your employer and give them at least 28 days' notice of the date you want SMP to start.

Maternity allowance

If you are self employed, unemployed or not able to claim SMP (usually either because  your wage is too low or you were already  pregnant when you started working for your employer), you may be entitled to maternity allowance (MA). You can claim MA from Jobcentre Plus on form MA1 or online. Your employer must also provide you with an SMP1 form explaining why you are not eligible for SMP.

To claim you have to:

·       Have been working for at least 26 of the 66 weeks (15 months) ending the week before your baby is due. The work does not have to be continuous or with the same employer.

·         There were 13 weeks (not necessarily in a row) when you earned more than £30 a week.

You could get either:

·         £138.18 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less) for up to 39 weeks

·         £27 a week for up to 14 weeks (if your baby is due on or after 27 July 2014)

Maternity Allowance is paid every 2 or 4 weeks and may impact on other benefits you are receiving, so it’s worth looking in to further.


We have found www.workingfamilies.org.uk a helpful website for more information on this – and this page specifically details your maternity rights and what needs to be done when.