You can ask your midwife or general practitioner (GP) for a Maternity Certificate (MAT B1) form after your 20-week scan. This form is proof of your entitlement to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), or Maternity Allowance if you do not qualify for SMP. Most women are eligible for one or the other, but you can find out more about the criteria Citizen’s Advice Bureau website, and get advice if you’re not entitled to either.
If you are employed, you are entitled to:
Paid time off for antenatal appointments and scans
Protection against discrimination / dismissal as a result of your pregnancy
Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance
Some employers top up Statutory Maternity Pay so that you receive more during maternity leave. You should check your contract and speak to your employer to find out your entitlement.
You must tell your employer that you are pregnant at least 15 weeks before your due date. By law, they must perform a risk assessment to ensure that it’s safe for you to continue your job throughout pregnancy. If any aspect of your job isn’t safe, your employer should make reasonable adjustments to your work environment, conditions and hours – find out more about reasonable adjustments in pregnancy.
You can take up to 52 weeks (one year) of maternity leave – you don’t have to take it all, but you must take at least two weeks after your baby is born (or four weeks if you work in a factory). You should let your employer know when you would like to start your maternity leave and agree a date when your leave will start. If your baby is born early or before the date you plan to start your leave, it will automatically start from the day after the birth. If you are off sick in the 4 weeks before your due date with a pregnancy-related illness, your maternity leave will start automatically on the first day of your absence. You may be able to take shared parental leave with your partner, and this is something you should discuss between you.
It can be difficult to decide when to stop working. It’s worth thinking about your specific job, the work environment, your commute, proximity to your chosen maternity unit (or home, if you want a homebirth) and how much physical strain is involved in your job. There is no right time to stop and everyone is different.