What time off work am I entitled to in relation to maternity?

All pregnant employees are entitled to reasonable paid time off for antenatal care. Fathers-to-be and partners of pregnant women are also entitled to unpaid time off to attend two antenatal appointments. 

The right to unpaid time off to attend two antenatal appointments is also available to intended parents under a surrogacy arrangement if they satisfy the conditions for, and intend to apply for, a Parental Order for the child. 

Agency workers with 12 weeks’ service doing the same job for the same hirer have the same rights to time off for antenatal appointments as employees. 

All employees (but not agency workers) also qualify for 52 weeks' maternity leave. You have this right from day one of employment. No service is needed. Only employees qualify for maternity leave. 

For the first 39 weeks of your maternity leave, you will be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, provided you have worked continuously for the same employer for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the child is due. If not, you may be entitled to receive Maternity Allowance. This is also the case if you are self-employed or earn below the Lower Earnings Limit £120 a week (2020). 

Agency workers who satisfy the rules as to continuous service and earnings are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay but not Statutory Maternity Leave. 

Employees who opt to cut short their maternity leave and pay may be able to share the remaining leave with their partner as Shared Parental Leave if they qualify. Although agency workers cannot take shared parental leave, their partner may be able to do this, provided he or she is an employee with at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment and provided the agency worker can satisfy an ‘employment and earnings’ test. 

For more information, see workSMART's Shared Parental Leave section and the Acas guide to Shared Parental Leave (PDF, 753KB). 

Another useful resource is SPLASH, a web portal devised by a group of legal advisers and charities, including Working Families and Maternity Action, providing guidance on Shared Parental Leave rights. 

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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