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Guidance on maternity law, maternity leave and paternity leave

Maternity law provides protection for employed women who are pregnant or on maternity leave. 

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The Forum provides information on maternity law and maternity leave as well as paternity leave. Rules also apply to employers to help them plan ahead and manage maternity leave and pay. 

An employer's responsibilities

Every year, around 700,000 babies are born, the majority of whom are to working parents. Maternity law provides protection for employed women who are pregnant, adopting or on maternity leave. It also exists to help employers plan ahead and manage maternity leave and pay.

In most cases, an employer can reclaim maternity pay paid to the mother, either in part or in full, from HMRC.

Maternity leave

All pregnant employees, regardless of their hours of work, length of service and whether they are permament or temporary, are entitled to 52 weeks' maternity leave made up of 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML) and 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave (AML) – making one year in total. Provided the employee meets the notification requirements, she can take this leave regardless of how long she has been with the employer, how many hours she works or how much she is paid.

Sickness during pregnancy

If the pregnant employee is sick before the 29th week of pregnancy, you should treat the absence as sick leave, regardless of whether the sickness is pregancy related.

If the pregnant employee is sick after the 29th week of pregnancy with a pregnancy related sickness, she can choose whether to start her maternity leave or take sick leave.

For any help with regards to maternity and paternity, please call our member helpline on 01565 626001. More information is also available in our Employment Guide.

Last updated 28th June 2016

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