Your employer is responsible for paying your maternity leave, which will be either statutory maternity pay or contractual maternity pay. If you decide not to return to your workplace after maternity leave, this might affect your maternity pay and you might be required to pay your employer back the additional pay which you received. Therefore, understanding maternity pay and maternity leave is important for new and expectant mothers.
Who is entitled to Maternity Leave and Pay?
You are entitled to statutory maternity pay if:
- You earn on average £118 a week.
- You have worked for your employer for 26 weeks when you reach the 15th week before your due date.
If you start a new job whilst you're pregnant and therefore have not been working for your employer for 26 weeks when your reach the 15th week before your due date, it is unlikely that you will be eligible for statutory maternity pay. This might differ if an organisation offers contractual maternity pay and leave, but this will depend on an organisation's policies. Therefore, when applying for jobs, it is important to understand the firm's approach to maternity leave and maternity pay.
Statutory Maternity Leave in the UK
- 52 weeks maternity leave in total.
- Maternity leave can begin from 11 weeks before the due date.
- You don't have to take all 52 weeks of maternity leave off work - you can go back to work 2 weeks after giving birth, or 4 weeks after giving birth if you work in a factory.
Statutory Maternity Pay in the UK
- Statutory maternity pay is available for up to 39 weeks.
- For the first 6 weeks, statutory maternity pay is equivalent to 90% of your average weekly earnings.
- For the following 33 weeks, statutory maternity pay is equivalent to £148.68 or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is the lowest total.
To receive your statutory maternity pay, you must provide your employer with a copy of your MAT B1 form, which is given to you by your midwife around the 20 weeks pregnant mark.
The UK is relatively behind other developed countries regarding maternity leave and pay, and particularly paternity leave which is currently a maximum of 2 weeks of paid leave. Currently, few fathers or partners take more than 2 weeks of paid leave in the UK, because their organisation does not offer them more than the statutory allowance.
Organisations across the UK are offering generous policies for maternity leave and paternity leave through offering their employees contractual parental schemes. Aviva, a renowned insurance firm, have a policy which offers employees 26 weeks of full pay, for both parents, and for parents who have adopted or opted for surrogacy. This contractual parental scheme helps to attract the best candidates to a company and is a way to boost the morale of the workforce.
Therefore, understanding maternity pay and maternity leave is important for new and expectant parents.