To qualify for ordinary maternity leave you must notify your employer, in writing, of the fact that you are pregnant and also provide the date that you intend to commence your maternity leave. This should also be in writing. The notification to take leave must be supported by a certificate from a medical practitioner or a midwife, confirming pregnancy. This certificate must also state the estimated week of childbirth. This can usually be obtained in the form MAT B1 from the Doctor or Midwife, around 20 weeks into your pregnancy.
You must provide this notification to your employer at least 28 days (4 weeks) before the date on which you wish to start your maternity leave.
Unless you are unwell, or the baby is premature, the earliest that you can commence your Ordinary maternity leave is the eleventh week prior to the estimated week of childbirth. You can choose when to start your leave, providing you give the correct notice to your employer.If you remain healthy you can decide to carry on working until nearer the due date.
Ordinary Maternity Leave is up to 26 weeks (You do not have to take it all if you do not want to!).
You do not have to formally notify your Employer of the return date if you intend to take the full 26 weeks Ordinary Leave, but your Employer is entitled to ask you about your plans. Once you have agreed a return to work date, you must give your Employer 8 weeks notice if you intend to change that date.
If you are off work due to illness, which is connected with the pregnancy, your employer can decide that your maternity leave has started. This can only happen if your sickness absence is within 4 weeks of the estimated date of birth. If you fall ill within this period your employer may inform you that your absence has triggered the start of your maternity leave. If your illness is not connected with your pregnancy, inform your employer if you do not wish to start your maternity leave yet. If you have any dispute with your employer over this, call our Advice Line.