Once upon a time it was possible for woman in a relationship to be concerned only with the full-time job requirements of running a home and raising children. Society and sometimes pure economics today play into this mix and dictate that most pregnant mums have to work. While most of the focus, quite rightly so, is on the pending arrival, you also need to be aware of your rights.
- You are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave at a maximum. This entitlement is yours regardless of how long you’ve worked for your employer or if you are full or part-time.
- This maternity leave will be subdivided into two categories and will affect the amount of money that you receive from your employer accordingly.
- Ordinary maternity leave lasts for 26 weeks. During this time you will be entitled to all your contractual rights, including your ability to earn paid holidays and perks such as a company vehicle. In other words, you are treated exactly as if you are still working, except for the payment you receive.
- After the first 26, the following 13 weeks are known as “additional maternity leave,” but your contractual rights only apply in certain areas. Your notice period remains the same, your availability of redundancy pay is unchanged and your typical disciplinary and grievance procedures still apply.
- Your statutory rights remain in place throughout the whole of your maternity leave, which could include an additional 13 weeks of unpaid leave. You may not be discriminated against and must not be passed over in favour of another employee in the event of redundancy.
- You will qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) if you have 26 weeks of continuous service at the end of the 15th week before the baby is expected. Statutory maternity pay is determined based upon a period of calculation – eight weeks up to and including the 15th week before baby is due. You must have earned at least £87 per week before tax during this period. If you do not qualify for SMP, you may be entitled to Maternity Allowance.
- The earliest you are able to start your maternity leave is 11 weeks before your baby is due, but it is up to you to decide and you can work right up until the birth. Your leave starts and your pay starts on the day you start your maternity leave.
- You are not legally obliged to tell your employer that you are pregnant until 15 weeks before the baby is expected.
- As a pregnant mother, you are entitled to free National Health Service, dental treatment and prescriptions as well.
- It may often be in your best interests to tell your employer you are pregnant as soon as possible, as you will then be entitled to a reasonable amount of time off with pay for doctor’s appointments. In addition, you may not be expected to perform certain tasks including lifting or the handling of certain substances, to protect the unborn child.
There are so many things to think about when preparing to live life as an expectant mother, and you should certainly consider professional coaching to help you prepare. Coaching for women is widely accepted and beneficial these days and online life coaching is available for every phase of your life!
Please note – the above article is intended only as a guide for women planning maternity leave in the UK. You should check your rights as maternity legislation changes frequently. This article is written in good faith with information available to the author at the time of writing. It is not intended to replace your own research.