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How to make a Maternity policy

Use this maternity policy to inform staff about their right to maternity leave (also known as ‘mat leave’).

This document is GDPR compliant.

A maternity policy is a document that sets out the applicable maternity leave regime and explains the statutory entitlements to maternity leave and pay.

Notify staff and managers about the statutory maternity leave regime using this maternity policy template. Ensure your staff know when maternity leave can be taken as well as when they have to return to work after leave.

Use this maternity policy to inform staff and managers about:

  • the statutory maternity leave regime

  • who is entitled to UK maternity leave

  • who is entitled to UK maternity pay

For more information about different types of family leave, read Family leave and rights.

This maternity policy covers:

  • entitlement to leave for ante-natal appointments
  • what is maternity leave
  • who is eligible for maternity leave
  • when maternity leave can be taken
  • notification requirements
  • statutory maternity pay
  • employer's enhanced maternity pay
  • rights during maternity leave
  • returning to work after leave

Introducing a maternity policy helps managers and staff understand the rights and obligations attached to maternity leave. It ensures staff are aware of their rights when they get pregnant and it provides assistance in their return to work. Having a maternity policy encourages equality and fairness within the workplace.

What are the eligibility criteria for maternity leave?

To qualify for statutory maternity leave, staff must:

  • be pregnant

  • be an employee under an employment contract (ie not a worker)

  • give the employer notice of the leave at least 15 weeks before the due date, and

  • specify when they want the maternity leave to start

The earliest date maternity leave can start is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth. In some situations, maternity leave can start earlier than planned. In particular, it can start:

  • the day after the child's birth if the child is born prematurely
  • immediately if the employee is sick for a pregnancy-related reason during the 4 weeks before the expected week of childbirth

For more information, read Maternity leave.

During maternity leave, the employment contract continues except for pay entitlement. All other benefits must continue as normal. This means employees are entitled to:

  • pay rise or benefits in any kind
  • accrued holiday

When the leave starts, staff members are entitled to statutory maternity pay (SMP) for up to 39 weeks, which amounts to:

  • 90% of normal pay during the first 6 weeks, and
  • 90% of the average weekly salary or £156.66 a week (whichever is lower) for a further 33 weeks

To qualify for SMP, staff must:

  • earn at least £123 a week (on average)
  • give the employer at least 28 days' notice for SMP to start
  • prove that they are pregnant, and
  • have at least 26 weeks of continuous employment on the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth

For more information, read Maternity leave.

Employees should return to work after the maternity leave period ends, and employers must indicate the date of return in writing within 28 days from the date notifying the maternity leave.

The employee may not wish to return to work after the end of the maternity leave. The maternity policy should mention that in such cases, employees should notify the employer that they wish to request parental leave. For more information, read Parental leave.

Ask a lawyer for help:

  • changing an existing maternity leave policy that is contractually binding
  • where allegations of discrimination are made in connection with maternity leave

This maternity leave policy is governed by the employment laws (eg the Employment Rights Act 1996) of England and Wales or the law of Scotland.

Other names for Maternity policy

Maternity rights statement, Maternity leave policy, Maternity policy UK.