Employment Law is an area that is constantly changing and it is vitally important that all employers keep up to date with new developments.

If you are a new business or an established employer we can assist you with drafting or updating your contracts of employment and policies and procedures.
If you are restructuring your business and have to cut your workforce we will assist you in this process.
It ia very important that you and your staff understand what is happening every step of the way how ever difficult and complex the situation may be.

When you have some difficulties and you don't know what way would be more suitable for you, we can help you through your internal disciplinary and grievance procedures, saving you unnecessary costs and time away from your business.
If matters have already gone beyond that stage and proceedings have been issued we can help you defend any tribunal claims or other claims against you including representing you at hearings.

We act for both employers and employees. It is our advantage and this  means our all round understanding of the issues involved in successfully defending claims made against you.

Remember that early advice can save you significant time and costs.

Employer: Pregnant staff

You know that your employees have  many rights in accordance to The Employment Rights Act 1996 ('ERA') and other Regulations.

Statutory Maternity Leave

Eligible employees can take up to 52 weeks maternity leave. The first 26 weeks is known as 'Ordinary Maternity Leave', the last 26 weeks as 'Additional Maternity Leave'.

Employees can take the earliest leave as 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth and they must take at least 2 weeks after the birth (or 4 weeks if they're a factory worker).

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) for eligible employees can be paid for up to 39 weeks, usually as follows:


  • the first 6 weeks - 90% of their average weekly earnings (AWE) before tax
  • the remaining 33 weeks - £136.78 or 90% of their AWE (whichever is lower)

Tax and National Insurance need to be deducted.

You can use the government SMP calculator to work out an employee's maternity leave and pay.


Extra leave or pay can be paid to your employees if you have a company maternity scheme. Your maternity leave and pay policies must be clear and easily accessible to staff.

If the baby is born early maternity leave starts the day after the birth.

The employee has to confirm the actual date of birth. Beter if you will request from them to do this in writing. You will have to write to them confirming the new end date for their leave.

Employees still qualify for leave or pay if the baby:

  • is stillborn after the start of the 24th week of pregnancy
  • dies after being born

An employee's employment rights (like the right to pay, holidays and returning to a job) are protected during maternity leave.

Eligibility and proof of pregnancy

Some employees won't qualify for both leave and pay.

Employees must:

  • have an employment contract - it doesn't matter how long they've worked for you
  • give you the correct notice
  • be on your payroll
  • give you the correct notice
  • give you proof they're pregnant
  • have worked for you for at least 26 weeks up to the 'qualifying week' - the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth
  • earn at least £109 a week (gross) in an 8 week 'relevant period'

Calculate an employee's qualifying week, relevant period, notice period and maternity pay using the SMP calculator.


Proof of pregnancy

You must get proof of the pregnancy before you pay SMP. This is usually a doctor's letter or an MATB1 certificate (midwives and doctors usually issue these 20 weeks before the due date).

The employee should give you proof within 21 days of the SMP start date. You can agree to accept it later if you want. You don't have to pay SMP if you haven't received proof of the due date 13 weeks after the SMP start date.

Employees not entitled to SMP may be able to get Maternity Allowance instead.

To calculate your employee's statutory maternity pay (SMP), paternity pay, adoption pay, qualifying week, relevant employment period and average weekly earnings, leave period

You need:

  • the baby's due date
  • date of birth - for paternity
  • your employee's salary details - eg weekly rates of pay
  • the dates for adoption - eg match date or date of placement

You can't use the calculator for:

  • births 15 weeks before the due date
  • Additional paternity Leave or Pay
  • paternity leave or pay for overseas adoptions

Correct Notice period

Notice doesn't have to be in writing unless you request it.
To get Statutory Maternity Leave Employees must tell you at least 15 weeks before the baby is expected the date:

  • the baby is due
  • they want to start their maternity leave - they can change this with 28 days' notice

You have 28 days to write confirming their leave start and end date.

Employees can change their return date to work if they give 8 weeks' notice.

To get Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) Employees must give you 28 days' notice. You have 7 days to write confirming:

  • they're eligible for SMP
  • how much they'll get
  • when the pay will start and stop

In case of late notice you can't refuse maternity leave or change the amount of leave employees want to take.
You can delay the leave or pay start date if the employee doesn't have a reasonable excuse for giving you the wrong amount of notice. To delay it, write to them within 28 days of their leave request.

You can refuse Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) if the employee doesn't qualify. They may be able to get Maternity Allowance instead.

To refuse it, give the employee form SMP1 within 7 days of your decision. They must get this form within 28 days of their Statutory Maternity Pay request or the birth (whichever is earlier).

Download 'Form SMP1, Non-payment of Statutory Maternity Pay' (PDF, 57KB)


Government Help with statutory pay

  • You can recover the statutory amounts paid from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). If you have the payroll software you can find how much you'll get back, or you can use HMRC's Basic PAYE tools.
  • You can apply for an advance payment from HMRC if you can't afford to pay your statutory maternity payments.
  • If you're insolvent (you can't pay your debts) HMRC may pay your employee's Statutory Maternity Pay. Tell your employee to contact the Statutory Payment Disputes Team  by phone 03000 560 630


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