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A pregnant employee is entitled to 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity (OML) leave plus 26 weeks’ additional maternity leave (AML). To qualify for maternity leave, an employee must tell you no later than the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth:

  • That she is pregnant
  • The expected week of childbirth (and provide a medical certificate if requested)
  • The date she intends to start maternity leave.

Maternity leave can start no earlier than the beginning of the 11th week before the week the baby is due. Once you receive notification, you must write to the employee within 28 days setting out her return date. The employee must give you eight weeks’ notice if she wishes to change the return date.

All pregnant employees are entitled to paid time off for antenatal care made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner.  This may include relaxation classes and parent-craft classes. Except for the first appointment, employees should show you, if requested, an appointment card or other documents showing that an appointment has been made.

Statutory maternity pay (SMP) is payable if the employee has been employed continuously for at least 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth, and has an average weekly earnings at least equal to the lower earnings limit for National Insurance contributions.

SMP is payable for 39 weeks.  The first 6 weeks are payable at 90% of the average weekly earnings. The following 33 weeks are payable at the SMP rate or 90 per cent of the average weekly earnings, whichever is the lower. The current SMP rate is £135.45 per week.  It will be reviewed in April 2013.

During maternity leave you can agree with the employee to have up to ten "keeping in touch" days.  Such days can be used for training, team events or any form of work and may make it the return to work easier for the employee.

Contact us for further information on maternity.

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