Working while Pregnant – Rights and benefits in a nutshell

Telling your Employers

Once you have told your employers you are pregnant your statutory rights have to be upheld, which effects time off to attend anti-natal classes and health and safety issues, so the sooner the better.

However, if you prefer not to tell an employer immediately you can wait until the 15th week of pregnancy, then your employer must be told. To work out the 15th week, look on a calendar for the nearest Sunday to your due date and count backwards for 15 weeks. For example if your baby was due on the 6th December 2015, you have until the 23rd August to let your employer know.


pregnancy using laptop on his bed


Health and Safety

Your employer has an obligation to ensure that the work you do does not involve any risk to you or your unborn child and they will need to carry out a risk assessment. They may have to allow you to sit down more often while working, avoid heavy lifting, work shorter hours and not work with chemicals or toxic substances.

If what you do is a risk to your health or that of your baby’s, then you should be moved and given a job that is no risk. If this isn’t possible then you must be suspended on full pay until the risk is removed or until it is safe to go back to work.

Anti-natal Classes

Once you have informed your employer, in writing that you are pregnant, you will be entitled to paid time off for ante-natal care and if your doctor recommends ante-natal or parenting classes, this is also included.

Maternity Leave

Compulsory – Leave must be taken for four weeks after the baby’s birth if you work in a factory, or two weeks after the birth if you work anywhere else

Statutory – You can take 52 weeks off work if you want to, but you won’t receive full pay during that time. It is divided by 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks of additional maternity leave.

Shared Parental Leave – You and your partner can share the 52 weeks maternity allowance if your baby is due to be born on or after the 15th April 2015, or you adopt on or after this date. You don’t have to take the maternity leave all in one go, you can do it in stages, as long as you take all of the leave between the birth and the baby’s first birthday.

Maternity pay

For the first six weeks you are off work you will receive 90% of your income tax and national insurance will be deducted. Then for the next 33 weeks you will receive £139.58 or 90% of your earnings, whichever is the lowest figure and tax and national insurance will be deducted. Shared parental leave is paid at £139.58 or 90% of your weekly earnings, whichever is lower. There is a maternity pay calculator on the Gov.UK site. In order to use it you will need the following:

  • The date you started your current job
  • The date you have finished work, if you have already finished
  • How much you earn
  • The date you want your leave to start
  • How much leave you want

Answer all the questions and the payment calculator will work out how much you will get.

Maternity Grant

If you are having your first child or you are expecting more than one child, or you already receive certain benefits; you might be eligible for a Sure Start Maternity Grant, which is a one-off payment of £500. This grant must be claimed within 11 weeks of the baby’s due date or no more than 3 months after the birth. It is not a loan and it won’t affect any other benefits that you receive.

Other Benefits

You could also be eligible for working tax credits, which you will get for 39 weeks after you go on maternity leave, child benefit and tax credit or income support. The UK Govt. website also has a calculator to let you know what benefits you can claim and all the information you will need about maternity leave and pay.

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