Maternity Leave: What are your rights and how much will you get paid?

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  • The amount of maternity leave that you take from your job is always going to be a tough decision.

    It is often dependent on your employer and your own personal financial situation.

    This week former Celebrity Big Brother star Danielle Lloyd hit back at comments made by Katie Price, who earlier this year called maternity leave ‘an excuse to do nothing’.

    Lloyd told celebrity website Digital Spy, that pregnant women ‘definitely deserve a break’ during such a ‘stressful time’.

    While outspoken former Apprentice star Katie Hopkins last month said that she believes having a baby is a ‘luxury in the current economic clim ate’ and that maternity leave should be slashed to 6 weeks unpaid leave.

    Whatever you think, there are rules that employers must follow.

    So what are they and how much money will you be paid? We explain.

    If you’re eligible for maternity leave then you can take up to 52 weeks maternity leave. The first 26 weeks is known as ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’, the last 26 weeks are ‘Additional Maternity Leave’. 

    When can you take maternity leave?

    The earliest you can take your leave is 11 weeks before the expected week of giving birth. It’s in the rules that you must take at least 2 weeks after birth (those working in a factory must take 4 weeks).

    Are you eligible? 

    You can get statutory maternity leave if you’re an employee and you give your employer 28 days notice of your plan to take leave.

    You can only claim statutory maternity pay if you’ve worked continuously for your employer for up to 26 weeks up to the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.

    You must also earn at least £109 a week, give the correct notice and proof of pregnancy.

    How much will you be paid?

    Some employers will offer a more generous income depending on the company’s individual policy – check with your HR advisor if you’re unsure about this.

    If you’re eligible, you will get statutory maternity pay for up to 39 weeks.

    For the first 6 weeks you will get 90% of your average weekly salary.

    For the remaining 33 weeks you can get still 90% of your average weekly salary, unless you earn more than £136.78 on average per week.
    If you do, then you will get this amount for remainder of your maternity leave.

    Tax and National Insurance need to be deducted from this also.

    The HMRC has a handy calculator that you can use to work out how much statutory pay you will receive.

    What happens to your job?

    If you return to work within the first six months – or 26 weeks – then you have the right to return to exactly the same job you had before you took maternity leave.

    If you return in the second half of the year then you have the right to return to the same job, unless it is no longer available. You must still be placed in a similar job with the same pay or conditions.

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