Birth Choice

Understand your options

From birth plans and parental leave, to childcare and baby products - get free safety alerts and advice emails for help when making those big decisions for your little one.

Working hours and conditions  

Your employer must ensure, (under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999), that your work and working conditions don’t put you or your baby at risk.

This means they should carry out a work activity risk assessment. 

If there’s an unavoidable risk, they must take steps to remove it or offer you alternative work (with the same terms and conditions).

If the risk remains, your working conditions or hours should be altered temporarily.

If you do night work and your doctor advises you to stop for health and safety reasons, you have the right to be transferred to suitable alternative daytime work.

When no suitable alternative work is available, you should be suspended on full pay for as long as necessary to protect both your health and the safety of your baby.

Top Tips

  • You’re entitled to take time off work for antenatal care such as relaxation classes and parent-craft classes
  • You're entitled to take Keeping in Touch (KIT) days but agree how much you’ll be paid for them in advance
  • When your employer carries out a work activity risk assessment, talk to them about anything they can help with to make you more comfortable at work

SMP isn't paid properly?

If your statutory maternity pay (SMP) isn't paid properly, firstly try to sort it out by writing to your employer or making a formal complaint. 

If you can’t reach an agreement, you have two options:

  • Ask HM Revenue & Customs Statutory Payments Disputes Team (HMRC) to make a formal decision. You must apply within six months of your employer first refusing to pay you
  • Make a claim in an employment tribunal for unlawful deduction of wages. You must do this within three months.

Find out what SMP you are entitled to with our what rights do I have to maternity pay and leave? guide

For mistakes with maternity allowance, ask Job Centre Plus to look at your claim again (this should be done within a month of you receiving the original decision). 

If you’re still not happy you can ask to appeal.

If your employer has given you extra (contractual) maternity pay you only have to repay it if that was agreed in advance or specifically stated in your maternity policy. 

You never have to repay the SMP part of your maternity pay.

What about holidays or sick leave?  

During pregnancy, you’re entitled to time off with pay for antenatal care that’s been advised by a registered medical practitioner.

When you’re on maternity leave, you still benefit from all your normal terms and conditions of employment. These include:

  • your rights to pay rises
  • the build up (accrue) of holiday entitlement during your maternity, paternity leave

During maternity leave both you and your employer can agree to have up to 10 Keeping in Touch (KIT) days. 

These can be used for training days or team events or for any work that makes it easier for you to return to work.

What happens at the end of my leave?

When your maternity leave ends, you have the right to return to your original job. If a redundancy situation arises, your employer must offer you a suitable alternative vacancy if one is available. If not, you may be entitled to redundancy pay. 

At the end of your additional maternity leave (if you take the full 52 weeks) you’re entitled to return to your original job or, if this is no longer suitable, to an alternative job that is. 

If there’s no suitable alternative work, you may be entitled to redundancy pay.

Being dismissed because you’re pregnant, or because you take, or seek to take maternity leave, is classed as pregnancy discrimination.

In these circumstances you’re entitled to pursue a claim for compensation from your employer.

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