Maternity leave
Maternity leave

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

  • Maternity leave
  • Ordinary maternity leave
  • Additional maternity leave
  • Compulsory maternity leave
  • Compulsory maternity leave extended to four weeks in certain circumstances
  • Interaction with contractual maternity leave
  • Expected week of childbirth (EWC)
  • Entitlement
  • Workers
  • The self-employed
  • More...

Maternity leave

This Practice Note considers the three types of statutory maternity leave: ordinary maternity leave (OML), additional maternity leave (AML) and compulsory maternity leave.

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.

EU-derived laws that have been made to implement UK obligations under EU law (such as the obligation to implement a Directive), applicable in the UK at the end of the Brexit transition period/IP completion day are preserved in the UK’s domestic

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