🇬🇧 Maternity Leave in United Kingdom

Alastair Samson
Alastair Samson
  • Updated

Oyster policy is denoted in purple.


Employees having a baby have the right to up to fifty-two (52) weeks' maternity leave. The employee may choose when the leave starts, and to take less than fifty-two (52) weeks off. Leave cannot be carried forward, including if the employee elects to return to work before fifty-two (52) weeks. Leave can be shared with a partner. When requesting maternity leave, the employee must either provide the employer with: 1) a maternity certificate (government form MATB1); or 2) a letter from her doctor or midwife.

Eligibility for maternity leave is accorded if the employee has been working continuously for the same employer for twenty-six (26) weeks before becoming pregnant; and earns at least £120 a week on average for eight (8) weeks before becoming pregnant. In that case, the employee will be entitled to statutory maternity pay (“SMP”).

SMP is calculated at 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings for the first six (6) weeks, and whichever is lower of: (i) £151.97 a week; or (ii) 90% of their average weekly earnings, for the following thirty-three (33) weeks.

All contractual benefits other than remuneration (such as health club membership, private use of a company car or mobile device, accrual of contractual annual leave and so on) will continue during maternity leave.

Some employers offer enhanced ('contractual') maternity pay that’s more than SMP. It cannot be less than SMP.

It is not necessarily unlawful to dismiss an employee while they are on maternity leave. However, the dismissal must be for a fair reason and following a fair procedure.There is no “protected” or “forbidden period” as such, but an employee cannot be dismissed because of pregnancy or maternity leave. Termination for a fair, unrelated reason, is still possible during pregnancy or maternity leave, provided a fair process is followed.

Where an employee on maternity leave is made redundant, the dismissal will need to be with full notice.

Employees wishing to take maternity leave must give their employer notice at least 15 weeks befor ehte baby is due.

Oyster complies with the statutory requirements.



It is customary to offer enhanced maternity pay beyond the statutory minimum. Usually the first 26 weeks benefit from additional pay. Beyond 26 weeks, many employers return to paying Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) only.


Best in Class

The best employers offer maternity leave pay at a 52-week package (26 weeks’ pay at 100% followed by 26 weeks at lower pay (e.g. 90%).

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