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Having a baby is a key milestone in many people’s lives – and you deserve the time off to get in that essential bonding time with your child. Expectant parents need to know their rights when it comes to getting maternity and paternity leave when their newborn arrives.
There are three types of maternity leave in the UK:
• statutory maternity pay: the standard type of maternity pay – if you’re entitled to this it’s the legal minimum your employer can pay you
• contractual maternity pay: some employers offer this instead of statutory maternity pay – your contract or company maternity policy should tell you if yours does
• Maternity Allowance: you might get this from the Government if you can’t get statutory maternity pay from your employer
Statutory maternity pay is what most pregnant women get, and you will be paid this if:
- you work for your employer in the 15th week before your baby is due and have worked for them for at least 26 weeks before that
- your average pay, before tax, is at least £120 a week
New mums receive statutory maternity pay for 39 weeks of their 52 week period of leave – and this is divided into several sections which will change how much you get in that period.
For the first 26 weeks post partum, known as ‘ordinary maternity leave’, is the statutory amount that all new mothers are entitled to
For the first six weeks, you will be paid 90 percent of your average salary before tax.
Following this, you will be paid £151.20 per week, or 90 percent of your earnings if your earnings are lower than this.
If you opt to take a full year of leave after having your baby, the last 13 weeks are unfortunately unpaid.
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Who pays maternity pay?
Your employer will pay your SMP in the same way your salary is paid, with tax and National Insurance deducted as normal.
You must provide your employer with proof you are pregnant with a note from a doctor or a midwife.
You cannot be fired for taking time off after having a baby – this is discrimination and you can take your employer to court if you have been dismissed for being pregnant.
You can be made redundant on maternity leave – but only if your employer genuinely needs to make redundancies.
While the UK has maternity pay for new mothers, it doesn’t have the best track record in comparison to other countries.
Estonia gives new mothers an incredible 84 weeks of maternity pay, the highest of anywhere in the world.
Austrian mothers get 49 weeks; Japanese mothers get 36 weeks; and new Swedish mums get 35 weeks.
However, the UK does beat the USA – mothers in the USA get absolutely no maternity pay.
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