To take maternity leave you must give your employer notice before the end of the 15th week before your baby is due.
If your employer asks you to, you must put the notice in writing. You must tell your employer that you are pregnant, your estimated due date, and the date you wish to start your maternity leave. You will also need to provide your MATB1 certificate, which will be given to you by your midwife or GP once you are 20 weeks pregnant.
Your employer should assume that you will take the full 52 weeks of maternity leave, unless you tell them otherwise. Your employer must write to you within 28 days of receipt of your notice, and state the date your maternity leave will end.
Most women give notice for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) at the same time as notice for maternity leave. Notice for SMP must be given 28 days before the date you want your SMP to start.
We have a sample letter you can use to give notice for maternity leave and SMP.
If you and/or your partner wish to take Shared Parental Leave (SPL), it is worth considering whether to start the notice process for this before maternity leave.
If you change your mind and want to change the start date of your maternity leave, you must give your employer at least 28 days’ notice before the date you originally intended to start your leave, or 28 days’ notice before the new date, whichever is the earlier (in some cases, a shorter period of notice can be given if 28 days is not reasonably practicable).
Returning from Maternity Leave before 52 weeks
You need to give your employer at least 8 weeks’ notice of the date you intend to return from maternity leave. Ideally you would confirm this in writing if you haven’t already.
You can use the below to send the notice of return:
To: [NAME], [Your Line manager/HR contact]
NOTICE OF EARLY RETURN FROM MATERNITY LEAVE
I am writing to inform you that I intend to return early from maternity leave, on
[I would be grateful if we could arrange a time to speak to discuss my return to work.]
This advice applies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you live in another part of the UK, the law may differ. Please call our helpline for more details
If you have further questions and would like to contact our advice team please use our advice contact form below or call us.