Pregnancy is an exciting time, but can also be a very stressful period leaving a lot of mums-to-be feeling worried about the security of their job. The world of maternity pay, leave and rights at work during pregnancy can be a tricky one to navigate so we’ve put together a list of some of the most frequently asked questions to make sure you know your legal entitlements and make this a less daunting time.

When do I have to tell my employer I’m pregnant?

Legally you have to tell your employer by week 25 of your pregnancy and Mat B1 forms are usually handed out by the midwife at your 20 week scan. You may however prefer to tell your employer once your bump starts showing or when you need to take time off work for pregnancy related illness. It’s always best to advise as soon as you can though, so that your employer can carry out a full risk assessment and possibly eliminate any risks to you and your baby such as heavy lifting and night shifts. There are many more legal factors involved, and so to reduce any extra unnecessary strain, seek support from a family lawyer

Do I have to carry on with night shifts and heavy lifting?

Your employer will have to carry out a risk assessment when you inform them that you are pregnant, and tasks such as moderate or heavy lifting should no longer make up part of your day. If it is not possible to assign lighter tasks to you, your employer should suspend you on full pay. Most risk assessments will find that night shifts are riskier than day shifts due to their being less staff available to support you, but this depends on what kind of work you do and the amount of support available to you.

Pregnant with twins

Do I have to use annual leave for antenatal appointments?

You are entitled to paid time off for all antenatal appointments and scans as well as specialist pregnancy classes provided your GP and midwife confirm that these are in the best interests of you and your unborn child. This applies even if you are part time.

When can I start maternity leave?

All pregnant women are entitled to 52 weeks of continuous maternity leave, but these must commence no earlier than your 29th week of pregnancy and no later than the birth date of your baby. Your employer should assume that you will take the full amount of time you are entitled to unless you tell them otherwise, but you are under no obligation to indicate your date of return. You must tell your employer the date you intend to commence maternity leave by no later than your 25th week of pregnancy.

Will I be entitled to maternity pay?

As long as you have continuously worked for your employer for a period of 26 weeks by the 25th week of your pregnancy you could qualify for statutory maternity pay, or SMP. To qualify you must have earned £95 per week during between week 17 and week 25 of your pregnancy, which is known as the Qualifying Period. You will receive SMP for 39 weeks, with 90% of your average weekly earnings over the Qualifying Period for six weeks or £123.06 per week, whichever is the lesser. After that, you will receive 33 weeks at SMP rate which is currently £123.06 per week.

If you do not qualify for SMP, you may be entitled to maternity allowance which can be applied for through your local job centre.

In association with Barlow Robbins