Returning to Work at the end of Ordinary Maternity Leave

Site updated on February 17, 2020

You have the right to take up to 26 weeks ordinary maternity leave. You must be allowed to return to your old job when that leave expires – or earlier if you wish. You do not have to accept an alternative job; unless your old job is genuinely redundant.

You should have discussed your return date with your Employer before starting maternity leave. Your Employer should then have written to you to confirm this. If this is the case, you do not have to provide your employer with advanced notice if you intend to return to work immediately after the end of your ordinary maternity leave (currently 26weeks). It would be a good idea to be in touch about your return though.

If you are not allowed to return to work from your maternity leave, this could be treated as an unfair dismissal unless it can be justified, for example, by a genuine redundancy situation, and not in any way connected to your taking maternity leave. Any dismissal connected to taking maternity leave is also likely to be sex discrimination and you may be  entitled to compensation.

If this happens, ask for help from our Advice Line.

If you would like to return to work before the end of your 26 weeks of ordinary maternity you are quite entitled to do so.You must give your employer at least 8 weeks advanced notice. (This same notice period is also required when a woman wants to return early from additional maternity leave.)

If you would like to return on different hours or working days, you will need to make a request for Flexible Working. See the relevant section for detail. Employers should not reject any request to return on a part time basis without full consideration.

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