Legislation sets out statutory minimum leave entitlements. Agreements between employers and employees may provide for better arrangements than the statutory minimum. The statutory entitlements are as follows:
The law requires that an employee take a minimum of two weeks’ (four weeks for those who work in factories) maternity leave immediately following the birth.
All pregnant employees are entitled to take up to one year’s (52 weeks’) maternity leave, regardless of length of service with the employer. This is a single continuous period and is made up of:
- 26 weeks’ Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML) – during which the contract of employment continues, and during which the employee must continue to receive all her contractual benefits except (unless agreed otherwise) wages or salary
- 26 weeks’ Additional Maternity Leave (AML) – during which the contract of employment continues, but only certain terms of that contract apply. However, changes introduced from 6th April 2008 will mean that a woman whose expected week of childbirth is on or after 5th October 2008 will be entiteld to all normal contractual benefits except (unless agreed otherwise) wages or salary during Additional Maternity Leave as well as Ordinary Maternity Leave. AML follows OML and there must be no gap between the two.
See also Family-Friendly Policies