What are my rights to maternity leave as a teacher?


You may be expecting a baby and are unsure about your rights to maternity pay, leave and how much time you can take off school. In this article, we outline your statutory rights to maternity leave and pay with frequently asked questions. 

How long does statutory maternity leave last for?

Statutory maternity leave is 52 weeks. It consists of:

  • Ordinary maternity leave, first 26 weeks
  • Additional maternity leave, last 26 weeks

You do not have to take 52 weeks but you must take 2 weeks’ leave after your baby is born. You can use the maternity planner on GOV.UK to work out the dates for your ordinary and additional leave.

You may be entitled to take some of your leave as shared parental leave. Edapt has produced another article which explains what shared parental leave is.

When can I start maternity leave?

Usually, the earliest you can start your leave is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth. Leave will also start:

  • The day after the birth if the baby is early
  • Automatically if you are off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the week (Sunday to Saturday) that your baby is due

You can use the maternity planner (linked to above) to work out the earliest date your maternity leave can start.

When do I have to tell my school I want to start maternity leave?

At least 15 weeks before your due date, tell your school when the baby is due and when you want to start your maternity leave. Your school can ask for this in writing.

Your school must write to you within 28 days confirming your starts and end dates. They must confirm how much maternity pay you will get and when it will start and stop.

Do I need to give proof I am pregnant?

You need to give your school proof of the pregnancy to get statutory maternity pay. You do not need to for maternity leave. Within 21 days of your maternity pay start date (or as soon as possible if the baby’s born early) give your employer either:

  • A letter from your doctor or midwife
  • Your MATB1 certificate. Doctors and midwives will give you this no more than 20 weeks before the due date

You will not receive maternity pay if you don’t give your employer proof that the baby is due.

How much can I receive for maternity pay?

Statutory maternity pay is paid for up to 39 weeks. You receive:

  • 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks
  • £156.66 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks

Tax and National Insurance will be deducted. You can use the maternity pay calculator to work out how much you could receive.

Statutory maternity pay usually start when you take your maternity leave. It starts automatically if you are off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the week (Sunday to Saturday) that your baby is due.

You can ask your school to explain your statutory maternity pay if you think it is not right. If you disagree about the amount or your employer can’t pay, call the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) enquiry line.

How do I know if I am eligible for statutory maternity pay?

To qualify for statutory maternity pay you must:

  • Earn on average at least £123 a week
  • Give the correct notice
  • Give proof you are pregnant
  • Have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks up to the ‘qualifying week’, the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth

You can work out your qualifying week using the maternity pay calculator linked to above.

Do I keep my employment rights on maternity leave?

Your employment rights are protected while on statutory maternity leave. This include your right to:

  • Pay rises
  • Build up (accrue holiday)
  • Return to work

What happens if my baby is born early?

You can still get statutory maternity leave and pay if your baby:

  • Is born early
  • Is stillborn after the start of your 24th week of pregnancy
  • Dies after being born

Maternity schemes at your school

You might get more than the statutory amount of leave and pay if your employer has a company maternity scheme. Some large academy trusts may have maternity schemes with additional benefits. They cannot offer you less than the statutory amount.

Further support

If you are thinking about taking maternity leave and ensure about the support you could receive you can contact us for further advice and support.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.