Statutory maternity leave
Statutory maternity leave is 52 weeks (one year). An employer has to let a new mother take this time off and have her job waiting for her at the end of it. The minimum is two weeks’ leave (four for factory workers).
Statutory maternity pay is only available if:
- You’ve been working for your employer for long enough – basically at least 26 weeks before the 15th week before the baby is due
- You’re earning above the threshold: £109 per week in the 2013/2014 tax year.
If you’re getting statutory maternity pay, remember that the payments will stop after 39 weeks. You should budget for a lower income at the end of the leave. At the end of maternity leave, some women change their minds about going back to work. You don’t need to tell your employer about this in advance. If you don’t return to work, you might have to repay any extra maternity pay you received from your employer, over and above SMP.
Some women don’t work enough to meet the threshold for Statutory Maternity Pay, haven’t been working in their job long enough to qualify, or are self-employed. They may be able to claim Maternity Allowance (MA). Learn more about Maternity allowance.
A Keep in Touch day is a day you spend working for your old employer as a one-off during your maternity leave period, to help you ease you back into your role at the end of your leave. You can take up to 10 KIT days. They don’t affect your statutory maternity leave pay. Your employer doesn’t need to pay you extra for the work you do on KIT days – that’s entirely up to them.
New fathers get one or two weeks’ statutory paternity leave. It has to start after the birth and end within 56 days of the birth.
There’s also the option of additional paternity leave. This means fathers can take up a part of the mother’s maternity leave – up to 24 weeks – before the child’s first birthday. This can only happen if the mother has already gone back to work.