Maternity leave
Maternity leave

The following Employment guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Maternity leave
  • Ordinary maternity leave
  • Additional maternity leave
  • Compulsory maternity leave
  • Interaction with contractual maternity leave
  • Expected week of childbirth (EWC)
  • Entitlement
  • Requirement for employee to give notice
  • Varying the start date given in a standard notice
  • Requirement for employer to confirm date AML will end
  • more

Irrespective of length of service or hours of work, a pregnant employee is entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave. This is made up of three types of leave:

  1. ordinary maternity leave (OML)

  2. additional maternity leave (AML)

  3. compulsory maternity leave (which forms part of ordinary maternity leave)

Although all qualifying employees are entitled to both ordinary maternity leave and additional maternity leave, the two are separate (rather than one year-long leave entitlement) because the employee’s rights and duties during each type of leave differ (ie the terms of the right to return to work after leave are more restrictive on the employer, and more beneficial to the employee, if she returns at the end of OML and pension rights do not accrue during any unpaid part of AML).

Maternity leave is an entitlement under EU law, introduced by Directive 92/85/EEC, the Pregnant Workers Directive (PWD). In most respects the domestic law is more generous in its provisions than the requirements of the PWD, but it should be borne in mind that in any issue of interpretation of the domestic legislation, the Directive may be relied on as an aid to interpretation.

The right to statutory maternity leave is set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA 1996). The detail of the right is set out in the Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations