Find out if you are eligible for statutory maternity and paternity leave, as well as maternity allowance and shared parental leave, and what the pay is like for these benefits.

What exactly does “parental leave” mean?

Employees who have recently given birth or adopted a child are eligible for statutory maternity leave and paternity leave, as well as remuneration from their employers during these time periods.

Alternately, certain individuals might be eligible for the maternity allowance or shared parental leave. Shared parental leave is another option.

This guide will walk you through all you need to know, including how to apply for an extended maternity leave and the several benefits that are available to help parents pay for the costs connected with having a child.

Maternity leave

52 weeks leave

39 weeks pay

What exactly is it?

The period of time that you are required to take off from your employment in order to give birth is known as statutory maternity leave. If you are an employee, you are eligible for a total of 52 weeks of maternity leave, which can be broken down as follows: 26 weeks of regular maternity leave, and 26 weeks of extra maternity leave.

After giving birth, mothers are required to take a leave of absence of at least two weeks, or four weeks if they are employed in a manufacturing environment.

If you return to work while you are still on conventional maternity leave or at the end of your leave, you have the right to return to your previous position.

You may be able to return to your previous job if you take the additional maternity leave, or you may be provided suitable employment that is comparable to what you were doing before. This must be on terms that are not less favourable than those of your previous position, and your employer can only offer it to you if it is not “reasonably conceivable” for them to give you your previous job back.

If you meet the requirements, your employer is required to provide you with statutory maternity pay during your pregnancy. This can be paid out for a maximum of 39 weeks.

Who is qualified to apply?

You need to be considered an employee, not a “worker,” in order to be eligible for the statutory maternity leave and pay that is available to employees. For this reason, for instance, if you are employed under a contract that is only for a set period of time, you might not be eligible.

You are required to inform your employer of your intention to take maternity leave, and you must do so by the time you are 25 weeks pregnant (or ‘at the end of the 15th week before the week your baby is due’). This must be done by the time the deadline passes.

In order to qualify for statutory maternity pay, you are need to:

until the time you must give notice, you must have worked for your company for at least 26 weeks, which is approximately six months (15th week before your baby is due).
You need to make at least 123 pounds sterling per week, on average.
You are required to provide evidence of your pregnancy to your employer, along with the expected date of delivery.

How much do you stand to gain?

The amount of statutory maternity pay that you will get will change throughout the duration of the 39 weeks that you are entitled to receive it.

You will be paid ninety percent of your average weekly pay for the first six weeks of the position.
You will get either 90 percent of your average weekly earnings or £156.66 per week for the next 33 weeks, whichever amount is smaller. This payment will be sent to you regardless of which option you choose.

This could be different depending on who you work for. It is important to check the firm’s policy on this matter because some employers provide better maternity pay to employees who have worked at the company for a longer period of time.

However, if you do not come back to work for the company following your maternity leave, you can be required to pay back the additional money you were given.

Putting in a claim

In addition to informing your employer that you are expecting a child, you are obligated to provide them with information regarding the beginning date of your maternity leave. In most cases, this can happen at any moment between 11 weeks before the projected due date and the time the baby is born.

As a means of providing evidence of your pregnancy to your employer, you will be required to present a Maternity Certificate, also known as a MAT B1. Following the completion of your mid-pregnancy scan, your midwife will be able to provide you this certificate.

You are welcome to make use of this letter template in order to submit your request for maternity leave.

[Your address]

[Location of the company]

Dear [insert the name of the employer or manager here],

Reference: request for time off during pregnancy

Your National Insurance Number Is: [insert number here]

I am writing to inform you that I am pregnant and to alert you of when I want to start my maternity leave and when I want to begin collecting statutory maternity pay. I will be starting my leave and receiving payment on [insert date here] (SMP).

My MATB1 certificate, which verifies that my baby is due in the week beginning [insert date], is contained with this letter. My due date is [insert date].

It has been brought to my attention that I am entitled to a total of 52 weeks of paid maternity leave, which is split up as follows: 26 weeks of regular maternity leave and another 26 weeks of supplemental maternity leave.

My preferred start date for my paid maternity leave is [insert date here]. Thank you.

I am aware that in order to move this date, I am required to provide you with a notice period of at least 28 days in advance.

I feel that I am eligible for SMP; thus, I would need it confirmed, along with the amount that I would receive.

If my leave begins on the day that I had planned for it to, my [ordinary or extra] maternity leave will terminate on the date that you specify. As a result, I am scheduled to go back to work on [insert date here].

I’d appreciate it if you could verify the date when I’m supposed to go back to work.

I sincerely hope that everything has been resolved to your satisfaction, and I eagerly anticipate hearing from you with confirmation of the information presented above.

Sincerely, yours in service,

Your name here [in brackets]

Extended time off for mothers-to-be

You might make the decision to use all of the additional maternity leave that is available to you. Should you want to go through with it, you are obligated to get in touch with your place of employment and explain your choice to them.

This letter can be used to ask for additional time off during your maternity leave.

[Your address]

[Location of the company]

Dear [insert the name of the employer or manager here],

a request for a longer period of time off for maternity leave

Your National Insurance Number Is: [insert number here]

I am writing to indicate that I plan to take the full amount of extended maternity leave in addition to the period that I am required to spend as part of my statutory leave.

Consequently, I am making preparations to go back to work on [insert new date here].

It would be very helpful if you could let me know which of the current conditions of my employment, if any, will be changed as a result of your decision.

Could you also let me know whether or not there is any more information that you require from me at this time?

Sincerely, yours in service,

Your name is (in brackets)

Allowance for time spent pregnant

39 weeks pay

What exactly is it?

Maternity allowance is a benefit that is provided by the government and is often reserved for women who are not eligible for statutory maternity pay. Maternity pay is a benefit that is provided to women who have given birth.

You are eligible to file a claim for maternity allowance once you have been pregnant for a total of 26 weeks, and payments can begin up to 11 weeks before the expected date of delivery.

It can last for as long as 39 weeks, although the exact duration will be determined by your individual circumstances.

Who is qualified to apply?

In order to qualify for a maternity allowance of 39 weeks, one of the following conditions must be met:

You are working, but unfortunately you do not qualify for statutory maternity pay.
You’ve recently quit working but are still considered to be self-employed, so you pay Class 2 National Insurance.

In the 66 weeks leading up to the due date of your child, you are required to have held a job (or been self-employed) for at least 26 of those weeks, and you must have made at least £30 per week in earnings for at least 13 of those weeks.

If you are self-employed, in addition to having paid Class 2 National Insurance for at least 13 of the 66 weeks, you are required to have paid Class 4 National Insurance.

If you don’t meet the requirements to receive compensation for 39 weeks, you can still be eligible for maternity allowance for 14 weeks. If any of the following conditions exist for at least 26 weeks out of the 66 weeks before your baby is due, then this will be the outcome:

you are neither employed nor self-employed; nevertheless, you do assist in the operation of the firm owned by your spouse or civil partner who is self-employed, but you do not receive payment for your assistance. you are married or in a civil partnership.
Your spouse or civil partner is a self-employed individual who is registered with HMRC. They are responsible for paying Class 2 National Insurance.
Your spouse or civil partner is an independent worker and has their own business.

How much do you stand to gain?

You will receive one of the following options, depending on the privileges to which you are entitled:

£156.66 every week, which is equivalent to 90 percent of your typical earnings (whichever is less) for 39 weeks
People who are self-employed and have not paid 13 weeks of National Insurance throughout the 66 weeks of their pregnancy are eligible for a payment of £27 a week for a total of 39 weeks.
£27 each week for 14 weeks.
Putting in a claim

In order to apply for maternity assistance, you will need to fill out the form MA1. You have the option of completing this task online, or printing it off and mailing it to the address that is displayed on the form.

Leave for new fathers

2 weeks leave

2 weeks pay

What exactly is it?

You have the right to choose between taking one or two weeks of paternity leave if your partner is having a baby or if you are about to become a father. If your partner is expecting a baby or if you are about to become a father. You are required to do it all at once, and you won’t be able to begin until after the kid has been born.

Who is qualified to apply?

To be eligible for this leave, you must demonstrate that you will be using the time off to care for the newborn child, and you must also meet one of the following criteria:

the man who is biologically responsible for the offspring, who may or may not be the mother’s husband or partner (and this includes same-sex couples).
the child’s adopter or the intended parent, in the case that you are having a kid through the assistance of a surrogate.

Additionally, you need to make at least 123 pounds sterling every week before taxes.

You have the option of using your annual leave or thinking about taking some time off without pay if you are not eligible for paternity or shared parental leave.

You also have the legal right to take unpaid emergency leave in order to be present for the birth of your kid. This right is guaranteed to you by the law.

In addition to paternity leave, expectant fathers are eligible for unpaid leave to attend two prenatal appointments, with a total of six and a half hours available for each session. This time can be split between the two appointments.

How much do you stand to gain?

You will receive the lesser of either £156.66 per week or 90 percent of your typical wages; whichever amount is smaller, you will receive.

Putting in a claim

At least 15 weeks before the expected date of delivery of your child, you are required to provide written notice to your employer of your desire to take paternity leave.

You are required to provide your employer with form SC3 in order to make a claim for paternity pay; however, certain firms may have their own customised version of this form.

You can submit your request for paternity leave by using this sample form.

This is [Your Address]

[Location of the company]

Dear [insert the name of the employer or manager here],

Reference: application for paternity leave

Your National Insurance Number Is: [insert number here]

My [wife/partner] and I will share the parenting responsibilities of our future child, who is now in the process of being conceived.

I’m submitting my request to take some time off work so that I can be there for my spouse and the child we share. We anticipate that our baby will arrive on [insert date] as it is the due date.

I would prefer to begin my paternity leave on the day the baby is born, whenever this may be, and I would also like to begin receiving my paternity pay as of this date.

It has been brought to my attention that in the event that I am working when the baby is born, my leave and pay will begin the next day. I would like to request two weeks’ leave with pay from my employer.

I sincerely hope that everything has been resolved to your satisfaction, and I look forward to hearing from you with confirmation of the information presented above.

With heartfelt regards,

Your name is (in brackets)

Paid time off for both parents

52 weeks leave

39 weeks pay

What exactly is it?

After the birth of a child, both parents are eligible to take advantage of this type of leave. Instead of having to take their leave all at once, parents have the option of breaking up their time away from work into discrete chunks and returning to work between each one.

In order for both parents to begin their paid time off to care for their child together, the woman will have to finish her maternity leave or maternity allowance first.

It’s up to you how you want to break this up, but it can go for as long as 52 weeks total. However, you are required to use all of your leave time between the birth of your child and the first birthday of that child.

Who is qualified to apply?

To be eligible for shared parental leave, you will need to demonstrate that you satisfy the following conditions:

you and your spouse take turns caring for your child, you have worked for the same company for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the week that the baby is due, and you continue to work for the same company while you take time off for shared parental leave.

As long as both parents are qualified for statutory maternity pay, maternity allowance, paternity pay, or adoption pay, then they will both be eligible for shared parental pay. This will be the case regardless of whether or not the child is the biological parent.

How much do you stand to gain?

You are eligible to receive shared parental pay for up to 39 weeks, at a rate of either £156.66 per week or 90 percent of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. This benefit can be claimed.

Putting in a claim

At least eight weeks before the beginning of the first term of shared parental leave, it is required that both parents give notice to their respective employers.

You are required to provide your employer with at least eight weeks’ notice before each period of leave that you wish to take if you want to take time off work that will be interspersed with periods in which you will be working.

Learn more about it here:

What are the parameters of my entitlement to shared parental leave?
rights regarding parental leave and employment

There are some safeguards in place to ensure that working parents and those who are expecting children will have access to the assistance they require.

Employers are required to honour the following legal rights when a woman is pregnant. In addition to your rights to have leave and compensation after the baby is born, these legal rights include:

Paid time off for prenatal care: your employer is required to provide you permission to take time off for prenatal care and pay you at your regular rate while you are away from work. This does not just relate to visits to the doctor; it can also refer to classes on parenting or antenatal care if a gynaecologist or a midwife has suggested that the patient attend them.
As a measure to protect individuals from unfair treatment, it is against the law to treat someone differently because they are pregnant. Your employer is also not permitted to make changes to the terms and conditions of your contract without first obtaining your consent.
When you inform your employer that you are pregnant, they have a responsibility to evaluate any potential dangers to both you and your unborn child, and then to take whatever steps are necessary to eliminate those dangers. There is a potential for injury while moving or carrying heavy objects, standing or sitting for extended periods of time without taking sufficient rests, being exposed to harmful substances, or working long hours. Your employer has the right to suspend you while continuing to pay you in the event that they are unable to eliminate any of the risks.
Illnesses associated with pregnancy: if you are unable to work as a result of an ailment associated with pregnancy, you may be eligible for employment and support allowance. If you are eligible for maternity leave and pay, and you take time off due to your pregnancy during the four weeks before the baby is due, then your leave and pay will begin immediately from the date that you were away for the first time.
In the event that you are having issues with your current employment

Your employer is required to provide you with statutory leave and pay if you are qualified to receive it and have provided them with sufficient notice of your eligibility.

If they continue to reject, you should inquire as to the reason why. If you are unhappy with the explanations that they provide, you might be able to take action by following the actions that are outlined below:

Check the policies of your employer; you should look at your employment contract, talk to the human resources department of the company, or get in touch with your trade union representative to find out what benefits and perks you are eligible for.
Contact expert organisations:
You can get more information about your rights by contacting Maternity Action at the following number: 0808 802 0029 for the Maternity Rights Advice Line. Additionally, there is the Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service (Acas), which provides a service known as Early Conciliation and seeks to resolve issues that arise in the workplace between employees and their employers. In order to make use of the Early Conciliation programme, you will need to make contact with Acas within three months and one day, minus one day, of the day on which your employer refused to consent to the desired leave or compensation. The number to call to reach the Acas helpdesk is 0300 123 1100.
Seek legal advice:
Consult with an attorney if you are unsure about taking the next step in the process because they will be able to clarify your options.
Proceed to a court of labour arbitration:
Before you can even consider going to a tribunal, you are required to go through the Acas Early Conciliation process.

Find out more about how to prepare a financial plan for having a child here.

What happens if you are your own boss?

Because statutory maternity and paternity leave and compensation are only applicable to persons who are employed, the process for expecting parents who are self-employed is a little bit different.

Regarding moms

Maternity Allowance is available to expectant mothers who are self-employed and who have paid Class 2 National Insurance for at least 13 of the 66 weeks preceding the due date of their child. This qualifies them for the benefit.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will check to see if you have paid enough when you fill out an MA1 claim form to ask for it; if you haven’t, they will write to you to let you know that you need to pay more in order to receive it.

If you haven’t paid enough, you won’t get the full amount of £156.66 every week; instead, you’ll receive £27 per week for the next 39 weeks.

If the DWP determines that you haven’t paid the required amount of national insurance, HMRC will write you a letter explaining how to make early payments and perhaps qualify for the full rate of benefit. If this occurs, you can download the letter from the department’s website.

For the benefit of the dads and partners

There is currently no benefit available to self-employed fathers or partners who want to take time off to care for a new child that is comparable to the Maternity Allowance.

In addition to other benefits, universal credit

You may be eligible to receive additional benefit payments in addition to any maternity pay or paternity pay, and these payments may continue even after you return to work. You can make a claim for these benefits.

Anyone who is legally responsible for the care of a child is eligible to apply for child benefits. You won’t be asked about your financial situation, but if either you or your partner has an annual income of more than 50,000 pounds, you’ll have to pay tax on the benefits you get. Those who make more than sixty thousand pounds per year will, in effect, receive nothing.

However, because you will receive National Insurance credits to replace any time off work during which you are not making contributions to National Insurance, joining up is still something you should consider doing.

Both the child tax credit and the working tax credit are available to persons with lower incomes. The amount of money you receive will be determined by a number of factors, including how much money you make, how many children you have, whether or not you are a single parent, and whether or not either you or your child has a disability.

You also have the option of submitting an application for Universal Credit, a programme that is gradually being implemented all around the country. You won’t be able to claim either one of them because it would replace a number of benefits, including the child tax credit and the working tax credit.

Your payments under the Universal Credit programme will also be based on your own circumstances; nonetheless, this guide can assist you in calculating what you could potentially get.

When it comes time to go back to work, you will eventually have to face the possibility of having to figure out how you will pay for child care.

There are a number of programmes and benefits offered by the government that can be of assistance; however, the one that will be most useful to you will be determined by the specifics of your situation. In our guide, tax-free childcare and other ways to save money, we discuss all of the available options for child care in greater detail.

Parental leave FAQs

We have provided explanations for some of the most frequently asked questions regarding parental leave, such as what occurs if you are not paid properly and how it impacts your vacation time off from work.

Parental leave FAQs

We have provided explanations for some of the most frequently asked questions regarding parental leave, such as what occurs if you are not paid properly and how it impacts your vacation time off from work.

What are my options if my position is eliminated while I am on maternity leave?

In the event that your position is eliminated while you are on maternity leave, your employer is required to offer you a suitable substitute opportunity, if there is one available, before offering the position to any other candidates who are appropriate.

You may be eligible for redundancy pay if there is no other position that is a suitable fit for you.

If I ask for maternity leave, will that get me fired from my job?

It is considered to be pregnancy discrimination if an employee is fired either due to the fact that they are pregnant or because they take, or even seek to take, maternity leave.

You have the legal right to file a discrimination claim against your employer if you believe that you have been treated unfairly due to the fact that you are pregnant.

What should I do about the fact that my statutory maternity pay has not been paid in the correct manner?

You ought to begin by contacting your employer via written communication in an effort to resolve any payment issues. In the event that they refuse to correct the issue, you have the option of filing a formal complaint.

In the event that you are unable to come to terms with one another, you have two options:

I would like to request a formal ruling from the HMRC Statutory Payments Disputes Team. You have only six months from the time that your employer first refused to pay you to submit your application for this benefit.
file a complaint with the appropriate employment tribunal against the illegal deduction of wages. You have until the end of the third month after the refusal to pay to complete this step.

What will happen to my allotted amount for vacation?

You will continue to be entitled to all of the benefits and terms of employment that are typical to your position even when you are out on maternity leave. These are the following:

your rights to pay increases and the accumulation of holiday entitlement will continue during your time off for maternity or paternity leave.

You and your employer have the ability to come to an agreement over the number of “Keeping in Touch” (KIT) days that you will receive while on maternity leave. These days can be utilised for activities such as training days or team events that may make it simpler for you to return to work.

What can I expect when my maternity leave comes to an end?

You have the right to return to your previous position once your maternity leave or paternity leave has come to an end. You also have the legal right to request part-time employment or flexible working hours, and your employer is obligated to give your request careful consideration.

You have the right to return to your previous job after the conclusion of your additional maternity leave, or if that job is no longer acceptable for you, you have the right to return to another job that is suitable for you.

You might be eligible for redundancy pay in the event that there is no other work that meets your qualifications.