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How to get maternity leave in the UK

Are you pregnant and living in the UK? The good news is that if you are working, you may be entitled to maternity leave. This time off work will allow you to focus on childbirth and obtain other benefits. Such as, Universal Credit, Child Benefits, Child Tax Credit, Income support, Working Tax Credit, and the Sure Start Maternity Grant. Let us share the information we’ve compiled to help you find out whether you can claim paid maternity leave and how to do it.

How to apply for maternity leave in the UK

What is Maternity leave?

Maternity leave is a type of parental leave. It is the right of every pregnant female employee to continue to receive pay while being absent from work for a specified period of time before and after childbirth.

How much maternity leave can I get?

Eligible applicants can take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. This is usually divided into two periods:

  • • The ordinary maternity leave or first 26 weeks
  • • The last 26 weeks or additional maternity leave

The employer's obligation is to support their female employees by paying Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) while they are on leave. SMP is usually paid at the start of the leave and for up to 39 weeks into your bank account. During this period you can usually obtain 90% of your average weekly income minus tax for 6 weeks or £151.97 (whichever is lower) of your average weekly income for the next 33 weeks.

When can I start my maternity leave?

If you want to apply for early maternity leave, the earliest you can start your leave is 11 weeks before your child is born. You must take at least two weeks after the birth (and at least four weeks for factory employees).

Who can apply

You’re eligible for a maternity leave if:

  • • You’re an employee and have an employment contract
  • • You give sufficient notice to your employer

If you are unsure as to whether you’re entitled to maternity leave, you can check by using this official online tool.

You won’t be entitled to leave if your child is to be born by surrogate arrangement. If this is your case, you should apply for adoption leave and pay.

Where should I apply

The application for maternity leave is usually directed to your employer. The notification must be done in writing. Whether this notification can be done online depends on your employer’s policy, so you need to check this with them.

How to apply

You must inform your employer about the baby’s due date and when you'd like to start your maternity leave. This must be done in writing at least 15 weeks before the due date. Your employer must also inform his decision on the request within 28 days.

Documentation you need to submit

You only need a written statement of due date to be entitled to a statutory maternity leave. You must also submit proof of pregnancy to your employer to be eligible for pay. This proof must be submitted between 21 days of your leave date and must contain:

  • • A letter from your doctor or midwife
  • • A MATB1 certificate issued by the doctor or midwife within 20 weeks of the baby’s due date.

What happens after you apply

Until a decision has been made by your employer, the status of your application is considered pending. You can click here to assess the likelihood of your application being accepted. On successful application, your leave as well as your SMP will be considered a statutory entitlement within 28 days by your employers. However, if your entitlement to Statutory Maternity pay (SMP) is rejected, you’ll be given an SMP1 form stating the reasons for such rejection.

Cost and processing time

The application for maternity leave is free of charge. You’re simply required to notify your employer and submit the necessary documentary evidence. The period of maternity leave application varies depending on the time your application is made. However, your employee is mandated to notify you of the decision on your leave within 28 days of application.

Now you know

The process of statutory maternity pay and leave is usually between you and your employer. A rejected application for maternity entitlement must be coupled with reasons for the rejection. Disputes as to such entitlement should be alternatively resolved or brought within the ambit of the employment laws in the UK.

How to get maternity leave in the UK
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