Statutory Maternity Leave & Pay

Employers Guide

Your employees may be entitled to take Maternity Leave and Maternity Pay. 

Maternity Leave is separate from Maternity Pay and both have different rules around eligibility.

Maternity Leave

If your employee is expecting a baby, they are entitled to 52 weeks of Statutory Maternity Leave - no matter how long they’ve been in the job.

While they are entitled to 52 weeks off work employees don’t have to take the entire 52 weeks off work.  However, they must take at least 2 weeks off work or 4 weeks if they work in a factory, following the birth of the baby.

When does Maternity Leave start?

  • The earliest they can start their maternity leave is the 11th week before the baby is due. 
  • If the baby is born earlier than expected, their leave will start the day after the birth.

Employees Rights

While an employee is on maternity leave, they are still entitled to all the employee rights they normally get from work, such as:

  • paid holiday
  • protection from unfair dismissal
  • pension payments and rights during your period of Statutory Maternity Pay payment
  • any other employee benefits (e.g. gym membership, medical insurance) for the whole maternity leave period.

Maternity Pay

Statutory Maternity Pay is the legal minimum you must pay whilst an employee is on maternity leave.


For an employee to qualify for Maternity Pay, employees must:

  • be an employee and not a ‘worker’
  • give you the correct notice
  • give you proof they’re pregnant – MATB1
  • have been continuously employed by you for at least 26 weeks up to any day in the qualifying week – the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth
  • earn at least £118 a week (gross) in an 8-week ‘relevant period’

How much is Statutory Maternity Pay

The amount of maternity pay an employee gets changes during their maternity leave.

Only 39 out of the 52 weeks are paid.

Statutory Maternity Leave

Statutory Maternity Pay

First six weeks

90% of employee’s average weekly earnings before tax

The next 33 weeks

£148.68 per week or 90% of the employee’s weekly earnings (whichever is less)

The next 13 weeks



Tax and National Insurance will be deducted, and all monies will be paid as usual through the employees’ wages.

For more information on Statutory Maternity Leave & Pay for the employee, please get in touch.

Reclaiming Statutory Maternity Pay – Employers

For small & large businesses, maternity leave can be tricky to manage, but don’t worry, you can reclaim most, or all statutory maternity pay back from HMRC.

If you are a larger employer, you are entitled to reclaim 92% of an employers’ maternity pay.

For smaller business, if you have paid less than £45,000 in Class 1 National Insurance contributions and eligible for Small Employers’ relief, you are entitled to claim 103% of an employers’ maternity pay.

If you cannot afford to make statutory payments to your employees, you can apply to HMRC for an advance payment.   This can be applied for up to 4 weeks before you want the first payment.

For more information on how to reclaim Statutory Maternity Pay or to apply for the advance payment, please speak with a member of the Payroll team at Rift Accounting.


Contact Us

Newsletter Sign Up

Fieldset legend