I am already on maternity leave. Am I allowed to change the date that I will return to work?

Yes, provided you give enough notice. Your employer will be expecting you to return on the day after your 52 weeks of leave has finished. If you wish to change this date, then you must let your employer know a minimum of 56 days (eight weeks) before the date you intend to return on, and it would be wise to put this in writing.

If you fail to give sufficient notice, your employer can delay your return for 56 days, and if you work for your employer during this time, they can refuse to pay you.

You may decide to end your maternity leave early so that you can opt instead into the Shared Parental Leave system, as long as both you and your partner qualify. You must take the first two weeks of leave after giving birth (four weeks if you are a factory worker), known as ‘compulsory maternity leave’, but you can opt to share the rest of your leave with your partner. Eight weeks’ notice is needed to end your maternity leave and opt into Shared Parental Leave. You can find out more in workSMART's Shared Parental Leave section and on SPLASH, a web portal organised by legal advisers and charities, including Maternity Action and Working Families.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.