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In England employers must provide you with Maternity or Paternity leave and pay if you meet certain criteria. You and your partner can get SMP – Statutory Maternity leave and  Pay or SPP – Statutory Paternity leave and Pay or Shared Parental Leave and Pay

Maternity leave and Pay

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’.

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The earliest that leave can be taken is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth, unless the baby is born early.

You must meet all these criteria to be eligible for maternity leave and pay from your employer:

  • If you are employed full-time or part-time for at least 26 weeks at the employer and 15 weeks left until the childbirth.
  • If you earn at least £120 a week at that employer
  • If you notify your employer about your pregnancy (medical certificate) and that you are about to claim SMP – Statutory Maternity leave and Pay.

How much will you receive?

In the first 6 weeks, you will have 90% of your average weekly pay before tax, so tax and NI will be deducted.
In the next 33 weeks, you’ll have a £151.97 or 90% of your average weekly pay, whichever is lower. (All before tax)

If you do not meet the above criteria, you can apply for Maternity Allowance from your local Jobcentre. For more information, see our Maternity Support article.


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Paternity leave and Pay

You can take up to 2 weeks of leave at once, you can not break it up. You may be required to complete an SC3 form, that can also be given by your employer.

To receive paternity leave and pay from your employer you must meet all of these criteria:

  • Have proof that you are the father.
  • If you are employed full-time or part-time for at least 26 weeks in a given employer and 15 weeks left until the childbirth.
  • If you are still in employment with the employer at the time your child is born.
  • If you earn at least £120 a week at that employer.
  • If you notify your employer at least 28 days in advance of taking leave.
  • If you take your leave within 56 days of your childbirth.

How much will you receive? You can get £151.97 or 90% of your average weekly pay, whichever is lower. (All before tax)

Shared Parental Leave and Pay

If the mother decides to go back to work before the Maternity Pay or Maternity allowance finishes, the father may take over the Maternity leave and pay. You can take Paternity leave and pay for the period of the original Maternity leave and pay only.

To receive Shared Parental Leave and Pay you must meet all of these criteria:

  • If you prove that you are the father
  • If the mother is entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance
  • If you give your employer 8 weeks’ notice of leave. It can be taken out in blocks, but your employer needs to be informed in advance.

How much can you get? You can get £151.97 or 90% of your average weekly pay, whichever is lower. (All before tax)

Related articles
Maternity and child support
Having a baby in England
Child citizenship
Child care in England