Maternity Leave in the UK: A Guide for Overseas Employers

Employees that are expecting a new child will want to take time away from work, and most countries provide some type of maternity leave for mothers and paternity leave for fathers.

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The statutory leave entitlements and payment will vary between countries, and employers are always free to offer more leave than legally required.

The UK has a maternity leave entitlement that is very supportive of employees who are new mothers, and their compensation is paid by the government while on leave.  This guide will outline the amount of leave, eligibility and how payment is structured.

What are the maternity benefits in the UK?

New mothers in the UK receive statutory maternity leave of up to 52 weeks.  The first 26 weeks is ‘ordinary’ maternity leave and the second 26 weeks is ‘additional’ leave.  Leave can begin 11 weeks before the expected birth, and employees are required to take at least two weeks off after birth.

Employees also receive 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay (SMP), with a guaranteed right to return to work after the leave ends.

Who is eligible for maternity leave in the UK?

The 52 weeks of maternity leave is... read more

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Tim Burgess

Director, Shield GEO Services Ltd