Everything you need to know about planning for maternity leaveMaternity leave is an important time to make sure that new mums have time to recover and bond with baby. Here's what you need to know about maternity leave in the UK.
Maternity leave is an important time to make sure that new mums have time to recover from childbirth as well as bond with and adjust to a new member of the family. Expectant mums in the UK may be entitled to statutory maternity leave. Under statutory maternity leave, women can take up to a year off, but how long a new mum decides to take is mostly up to her. The minimum requirement is two weeks off after giving birth or four weeks if the mother works in a factory. The earliest you can start your leave is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth. However, to take full advantage of your maternity leave, you must be sure to take all the right steps. Here’s what you need to know:
When to formally request maternity leave
In order to claim statutory maternity leave, you’ll need to tell your employer at least 15 weeks before your due date. It’s best to do this in writing so that you have a record. Your employer must respond within 28 days confirming your start and end date.
What to include in your request for maternity leave
You’ll need to include your due date, when you want to start maternity leave and when you will return from work. Gov.uk has a handy calculator to help you determine how long your maternity leave should be, start and end dates and the date you must notify your employer. You must also include proof that you’re pregnant with a letter from your doctor or midwife or your MATB1 certificate, which doctors and midwives provide around 20 weeks before the due date.
What to know about your pay on maternity leave
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is paid for up to 39 weeks and includes 90 percent of your average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first six weeks. For the next 33 weeks, you’ll receive £145.18 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower). You’ll be paid at the same time you’d receive your normal wages, and just like your normal paycheck, you’ll see tax and national insurance deductions as well.
Do research on your company’s parental leave policy first
Many companies go beyond the government-required maternity leave and offer extended benefits like 100% pay for a period of maternity leave or extending maternity leave benefits to adoptive parents, etc. Make sure you read your company’s handbook or contact an HR representative, so you know of any additional benefits and the eligibility requirements.