Maternity myths

There are lots of misunderstandings about maternity rights. Don’t believe everything you are told!

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is never repayable. If that’s all you get, then it doesn’t matter whether or not you return to work. You never have to pay this back. Check here for an explanation of how much SMP is and who is entitled.  If you receive Occupational Maternity Pay, check the rules with your employer on whether you have to pay that back if you don’t return to work.

Maternity leave lasts for 52 weeks, not 39. It’s only the pay (SMP, or Maternity Allowance) which lasts for 39 weeks. If you are an employee, you can take a further 13 weeks unpaid. You don’t have to ask for this; your employer should assume you’re taking the maximum 52 weeks unless you give notice to return earlier.

Paid time off for ante-natal appointments covers any appointment you have, on medical advice, which falls within your working hours. You do not have to make up the time.

Sickness related to your pregnancy should not be taken into account in any record of your sickness absence that could be used to discipline or dismiss you. That means you cannot be dismissed for pregnancy-related sickness. That would be unlawful. Unfortunately though, time off sick because of your pregnancy does use up your sick pay in the same way as other sick leave.

If you are not given your rights and you need further help, you can contact our helpline.

If you have further questions and would like to contact our advice team please use our advice contact form below or call us.

Advice contact form

Have you heard about your right to request flexible working? Watch our film to find out more.

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