Your browser does not support JavaScript

Guide to managing maternity leave

3 min read
£ 20
Or, upgrade to our Parental and family toolkit

Our Guide to Managing Maternity Leave streamlines the complex process, ensuring compliance and smooth transitions for both employees and managers.

We also have budget-friendly bundles featuring this template:

What is a Guide to managing maternity leave?

The purpose of a manager's guide to maternity leave is to provide managers with a comprehensive understanding of their responsibilities in supporting employees who are taking maternity leave.

It aims to provide guidance on how to manage and support employees through the process of taking maternity leave, while ensuring compliance with relevant legislation and company policies. It also helps managers to understand the potential impact of maternity leave on team dynamics and to prepare for managing the workload during the employee's absence.

Guide to managing maternity leave
guide to managing maternity leave

What legal and best practice aspects should employers be aware of?

Here are some key UK employment legislation related to maternity leave:

  • The Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999, which set out the minimum amount of maternity leave that must be provided to employees.

  • The Equality Act 2010, which prohibits discrimination against employees based on pregnancy or maternity.

  • The Maternity Allowance and Statutory Maternity Pay Regulations 1987, which provide the framework for maternity pay entitlements.

  • The Shared Parental Leave Regulations 2014, which allow eligible employees to share leave and pay with their partner following the birth or adoption of a child.

  • The Employment Rights Act 1996, which provides employees with the right to return to their job after maternity leave.

  • The Flexible Working Regulations 2014, which provide eligible employees with the right to request flexible working arrangements, including changes to their working hours, location, or job duties, to support their work-life balance.

Guide to managing maternity leave


Maternity leave is a vital benefit that empowers employees to take time off work for the care of their newborns. As a manager, comprehending your legal and ethical responsibilities is vital. This comprehensive guide will not only demystify the maternity leave process but also provide valuable insights on how to proactively support your employees throughout this significant phase of their lives.


All pregnant employees are entitled to maternity leave, irrespective of their length of service or working hours. To meet eligibility criteria, employees must duly inform you about their intention to take maternity leave, provide legitimate evidence of their pregnancy, and confirm the anticipated due date. Moreover, they should have maintained continuous employment for at least 26 weeks by the conclusion of the 15th week preceding the expected week of childbirth.


Maternity leave encompasses a period of up to 52 weeks. Employees are authorized to commence their leave up to 11 weeks before their anticipated week of childbirth. Although they must take at least 2 weeks off following childbirth (4 weeks for factory workers), they retain the freedom to return to work prior to the culmination of their maternity leave should they opt to do so.

Pay and Keep in Touch Days

During the first 6 weeks of maternity leave, employees are eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) at 90% of their average full pay. SMP continues for up to 39 weeks, with a current rate of £151.20 per week (as of April 2023). Additionally, employees are granted up to 10 "keep in touch" days during maternity leave, enabling them to stay connected with work matters and facilitating a seamless return.

Accumulating Holiday Pay

Employees continue to accrue holiday entitlements while on maternity leave, ensuring they have paid leave available upon their return to work.

Communication and Return-to-Work Expectations

Consistent and transparent communication during maternity leave is integral. Employees are encouraged to communicate their intended return-to-work date at least 8 weeks in advance. However, flexibility is paramount, and any changes to return-to-work dates should be communicated promptly, allowing ample time for necessary arrangements.

Flexible Working Arrangements and Requesting Extended Leave

Upon returning, employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements, such as part-time or remote work, to better balance their work and family responsibilities. It's important to note that while employees can request an extension of maternity leave beyond the standard 52 weeks, the employer is not obligated to grant it.

Redundancies and Right to Return

Employees on maternity leave have special protection against redundancies. If redundancies occur during maternity leave, you are required to offer suitable alternative employment if available. Upon returning, employees must be reinstated in their previous role or a suitable equivalent position.


Displaying empathy and providing robust support during this pivotal period is crucial. Equip employees with comprehensive information about their rights, entitlements, and available resources. Consider offering flexible working arrangements to enable them to effectively manage their work and family obligations.


Embracing the complexities of maternity leave underscores a manager's commitment to their team's well-being. By fostering a supportive environment, understanding legal requirements, offering flexibility, adhering to communication expectations, and ensuring fair pay, managers can help ensure a smooth transition for their employees. Remember, each employee's situation is unique; therefore, open dialogue and tailored solutions are key.

Related articles

Why buy our Guide to managing maternity leave?
  • You save time and effort with a professionally written, editable HR document that is tailored to meet best practice.
  • You ensure compliance with applicable ACAS Codes of Conduct and other legal requirements.
  • You are notified by email whenever this template or its supporting resources are updated.
  • You enjoy 12 months of unlimited access with no hidden fees or extra costs.
  • You unlock a 25% discount on all future purchases or renewals of our libraries, toolkits, and templates.

What do our customers say about us?

I have been using the service now for around 6 months and it has been really useful in developing and updating polices and processes.

- Jamie Allan, Armstrong Craven ★★★★★

Armstrong Craven logo

Read full review on Google

Excellent library of resources and templates which have made my job in my small business so much easier to manage HR for my employees...

- Emma Hunt ★★★★★

Read full review on Google

Great value and the site contains an extensive library of essential HR documents. I access the site probably once a week...

- Laura Alliss-Etty ★★★★★

Read full review on Google

A great source of information and advice. I can highly recommend hrdocbox.

- Georgina Loom, The Hygiene Bank

The Hygiene Bank logo

HRDocBox is a great resource. It is incredibly good value, providing a large selection of HR guidance materials as well as...

- Emma Beauchamp ★★★★★

Read full review on Google

Supporting Menopausal Employees and Avoiding Legal Risk
Thu, 22 Feb 24

Supporting Menopausal Employees and Avoiding Legal Risk

Guidance for Employers

The recent announcement from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) clarifying the legal obligations surrounding menopause in the workplace has sparked important conversations...