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Pregnancy is a significant milestone in life, bringing with it not just the joy of expecting a new family member but also a range of legal and financial considerations. Among these, understanding your rights to maternity leave and sick pay is crucial. This article aims to demystify the entitlements you have as an expectant mother in the UK, ensuring you’re well-informed and prepared for the journey ahead. Let’s dive into the essentials of maternity leave and sick pay, providing you with the guidance you need, all while highlighting how Contend, your AI legal assistant, can support you through this process.

Understanding Maternity Leave in the UK

Maternity leave in the UK is designed to support expectant mothers, allowing them time off work to have a baby and recover post-birth. Here’s what you need to know:

Your Entitlements at a Glance

  • Statutory Maternity Leave: Eligible employees can take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, comprising 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave and an additional 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave.
  • Maternity Pay: You may be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) for up to 39 weeks, provided you meet certain criteria regarding your employment history and earnings.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for Statutory Maternity Leave, you must be an employee, not just a worker. There’s no minimum period of employment to qualify for this leave.

For Statutory Maternity Pay, the criteria include:

  • Working for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks up to the ‘qualifying week’ – the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.
  • Earning an average salary of at least £120 per week (before tax).

How to Apply

Notify your employer about your pregnancy, the expected week of childbirth, and when you intend to start your maternity leave, typically at least 15 weeks before your baby is due. You might also want to talk to your employer about flexible working and returning to work but taking unpaid parental leave.

Do I meet the eligibility criteria for Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay?

Navigating Sick Pay During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can sometimes come with health challenges, necessitating time off work. Here’s what you need to know about getting sick pay:

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

If you’re unable to work due to pregnancy-related illness, you may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay. SSP is payable for up to 28 weeks at a rate of £95.85 per week, as of the current guidelines. You can read more about sickness during pregnancy and maternity leave on the Maternity Action website.

Eligibility and Application

To qualify for SSP, you must:

  • Have an employment contract.
  • Have been sick for at least four consecutive days.
  • Earn an average of at least £120 per week.

Inform your employer of your sickness to initiate the SSP process. If your illness is related to your pregnancy and occurs in the four weeks before your expected delivery date, your maternity leave and pay may start automatically.

Am I eligible for Statutory Sick Pay during my pregnancy?
Employment: what was the date 4 weeks ago

What Was the Date 4 Weeks Ago? Planning Your Leave

When planning your maternity leave or dealing with pregnancy-related sickness, it’s essential to keep track of dates. If you’re wondering about specific dates, such as “what was the date 4 weeks ago?” to calculate your qualifying week or when to notify your employer, simple date calculation tools or calendars can be helpful. These details are vital for ensuring you meet all necessary deadlines for your maternity leave and sick pay applications.

How do I calculate my qualifying week for maternity leave?

How Contend Can Help

Navigating maternity leave and sick pay entitlements can be complex, but you don’t have to do it alone. Contend, your AI legal assistant, is here to simplify the process. Our AI technology, designed by legal experts, provides personalized guidance tailored to your situation. Chat with our AI legal assistant to get clear, understandable answers to your questions, whether it’s about calculating important dates, understanding your entitlements, or any other legal concerns related to maternity.

How do I calculate my maternity leave dates and entitlements?


Understanding your maternity leave and sick pay rights is crucial for a stress-free pregnancy and childbirth experience. By familiarizing yourself with your entitlements and the application process, you can ensure you’re fully supported during this important time in your life.

Remember, Contend is here to provide you with the legal guidance and support you need. Chat now with Contend’s legal expert to take the first step towards securing your maternity rights and entitlements.

Take action today, and ensure you’re well-prepared for the arrival of your new family member, knowing your rights are protected.

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This material is for general information only and does not constitute
tax, legal or any other form of advice. You should not rely on any
information contained herein to make (or refrain from making) any
decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your
own particular situation. Contend Inc is not regulated by the
Solicitor’s Regulation Authority.