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Understanding Additional Maternity Leave: What You Need to Know

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It is important for pregnant workers who are currently employed to know what leave they are entitled to when their baby is born. And managers also need to know where they stand on this important issue.

In principle, female employees in the United Kingdom have a statutory right to 52 weeks of statutory maternity leave. This is available to everyone, regardless of how long they have been in their job, how many hours they work or how much they are paid.

Maternity leave is divided into three different periods:

  • Compulsory maternity leave - After the birth of a child, mothers are required to stay away from work for the first two weeks. If they work in a factory, this period increases to four weeks.
  • Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML) - This refers to the first 26 weeks of maternity leave.
  • Additional Maternity Leave (AML) - This is the following 26 weeks of maternity leave available to those who wish to take more time than just normal maternity leave. Additional maternity leave begins immediately after the end of regular maternity leave.

The amount of maternity leave a mother wishes to take depends on her individual circumstances and she is by no means required to take the full 52 weeks of leave. Often, many new parents share maternity leave under the flexible parental leave system. However, it is crucial that employees inform their employer in a timely manner of their intention to take maternity leave.

In addition, some employers offer their employees the opportunity to work up to 10 days during maternity leave, called Keeping In Touch (KIT) days.

Returning to a previous job after additional maternity leave

Although additional maternity leave appears to be similar to regular maternity leave, there is a clear difference. If someone only takes normal maternity leave, they have the right to return to their previous job. However, in the case of additional maternity leave, the employer is not obliged to fill the previous position again if this no longer makes sense. Instead, the employer must offer a similar position with the same salary, conditions and expectations as the previous position.

Pay during additional maternity leave

Another point to consider when arranging additional maternity leave is the fact that an employee may not be paid for the entire duration of the leave. They are normally entitled to statutory maternity pay or, alternatively, maternity allowance for the entire period of normal maternity leave and for the first 13 weeks of additional maternity leave.

However, this means that the remaining 13 weeks of additional maternity leave are generally unpaid, and during this time they are also not entitled to any accrued pension rights.

Benefits during additional maternity leave

An employee is still entitled to other unpaid benefits such as gym membership, company car or health insurance, which are part of her employment contract, regardless of whether she chooses normal maternity leave or extends this to additional maternity leave. Before 2008, this was not the case and such benefits only applied to those taking normal maternity leave.

Holiday entitlement during additional maternity leave

Mothers continue to be entitled to annual leave during their maternity leave, although this cannot be taken (paid off) during maternity leave. Some employees carry over their annual leave to the start of their maternity leave or to the end of their additional maternity leave. This regulation is at the discretion of the company.

Navigating Additional Maternity Leave is vital for both employees and managers. Clear policies and communication are essential. Explore streamlined HR solutions with IceHrm.

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