I am expecting a child. What are my employment rights as an employee?

You are entitled to:

  • paid time off for antenatal care;
  • a risk assessment of any risks to you or your unborn baby associated with pregnancy, maternity or childbirth;
  • a health and safety maternity suspension if your employer identifies an unavoidable risk to you or to your unborn baby that cannot reasonably be removed. The suspension must be paid unless you turn down an offer of suitable alternative work;
  • 52 weeks' maternity leave, regardless of how long you have been with your employer;
  • up to ten Keeping in Touch (KIT) days during your maternity leave;
  • the right to choose to cut short your maternity leave (after taking the first two weeks of leave, or four if you are a factory worker) and to share the remaining leave with your partner, as long as you both qualify under the Shared Parental Leave regime;
  • Shared Parental Leave In Touch (SPLIT) days during Shared Parental Leave;
  • the right to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) for 39 weeks, provided you have worked for your employer for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is due, and as long as you meet the earnings threshold. You may qualify for Maternity Allowance if you do not qualify for SMP;
  • continuation of your contract of employment, except for pay;
  • continuation of employer pension contributions (in full) while you are getting SMP (pension contributions usually stop when you are not being paid maternity pay); 
  • return to the same job after Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML). After Additional Maternity Leave (AML) or Shared Parental Leave you are entitled to return to the same job unless that’s not reasonably practicable, in which case your right is to return to an appropriate similar job on no less favourable terms;
  • protection from detrimental treatment or dismissal, including redundancy, on any grounds partly or wholly related to your pregnancy or the fact that you have decided to take maternity leave;
  • 18 weeks' unpaid parental leave until the child’s 18th birthday;
  • dependants’ leave (unpaid), where appropriate; and
  • to request flexible working arrangements (after 26 weeks’ service).

You may also qualify for Universal Credit, which has replaced Child Tax Credits for most people. For more information on what benefits you may be entitled to, see the Citizens’ Advice website.

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.

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