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What leave am I entitled to?

By law you are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave, irrespective of how long you have worked for your employer or the amount of hours you work per week.

The 52 weeks is made up of 26 weeks ordinary maternity leave (OML), and a further 26 weeks of additional maternity leave (AML).   If you only take 26 weeks OML you have the right to return to the same job you did prior to your maternity leave.

If the AML is taken you have the right to return to the same job, or if it is not reasonably practicable to return to that job, to another job which is suitable for you and appropriate for your circumstances.  However, the terms and conditions of any new position must remain the same and any seniority rights kept as they were at the start of your additional maternity leave.

The first two weeks of your maternity leave (starting with the birth date) is compulsory.  It is a criminal offence for any employer not to ensure that you take two weeks leave once your baby is born.  However if you work in a factory, you must take an additional two weeks compulsory leave (therefore taking a minimum of 4 weeks leave).

Ordinary maternity leave (OML) notice

When applying for maternity leave, you must tell your employer at least 15 weeks before the due date of your baby that:

  • You are pregnant
  • The due date of your baby
  • The date when you intend to start your maternity leave. If it is not reasonably possible for you to give that much notice due to, for example, the baby being premature or you having just started working for your employer, you must give notice as soon as possible.

If you fail to comply with any of the requirements or provide the information late you could lose your right to OML on the intended start date.

What if I am ill during my pregnancy?

If you are ill and it has nothing to do with your pregnancy you are entitled to claim sick leave in the usual way until the date you start ordinary maternity leave.

If, however, you are off work with an illness which is wholly or partly to do with your pregnancy at any time within the four weeks leading up to the date you are due, then OML will automatically start.

Maternity leave terms and conditions

During your maternity leave you are entitled to the same terms and conditions as if you are not away from work, apart from the right to be paid.  Although you are not entitled to your salary while you are on maternity leave, you are still entitled to receive all benefits in kind such as insurance or the use of a company car.

The Equality Act 2010 inserts a maternity equality clause into your contract which states that:

  • Any pay increase you receive  or would have receive if you were not on leave must be taken into account when calculating your maternity related pay.
  • Any bonus which you are entitled to must be paid at the time you would have received it had you not been on matertnity leave.
  • Your pay on returning to work must take account of any pay increases you would have received if you had not been on statutory maternity leave.
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