Letter of Notice for Maternity Leave and Pay

maternity leaveBelow you will learn how to write a maternity leave notification letter and find out all about the current UK legal requirements.

Pregnancy Notification Letter

In the UK, employees MUST notify their employer at least 15 weeks before the date their baby is expected to arrive.  The best way to do this is formally by letter and our guide below will help you to include all the information you need.

  • Open the letter by stating your are pregnancy and advise when your baby is due
  • Draw their attention to your MATB1 form, which you must enclose with the letter as proof of pregnancy
  • Advise you are writing to notify your employer when you would like maternity leave to start
  • Note if you would like to take any annual leave due before maternity leave starts
  • State you believe you qualify for statutory maternity pay
  • Ask the employer to confirm your entitlement and the amount due
  • If you don’t qualify request they send you a SMP1 form
  • Note your entitlement to 52 weeks’ maternity leave and how long you plan to be absent from work
  • Reiterate your anticipated maternity leave date and state any changes will be made giving 28 days’ notice
  • Give an intended return to work date and ask them to confirm they are agreeable
  • End the letter with a brief note stating you look forward to hearing from them to confirm the above

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Eligibility for Maternity Leave

You will qualify for Statutory Maternity Leave if you’re an employee (not a worker/self-employed) and you give your employer the correct notice period.

To qualify for SMP, you must:

  • Earn an average of £111 per week
  • Give appropriate notice
  • Submit a MATB1 form to prove you’re pregnant
  • Have worked continuously for 26+ weeks for your employer, up to the qualifying week (15 weeks before EDD)

If you are eligible, you can take up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave, with the first 26 weeks known as ‘ordinary maternity leave’ and the remaining 26 weeks as ‘additional maternity leave’.

If you are self-employed, you need to complete a MA1 form but you must meet set criteria to qualify and be self-employed during the qualifying week.

What Happens  if I Don’t Qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay?

An employer can refuse to pay SMP if an employee doesn’t mee the qualifying criteria above.  However, you may be able to claim Maternity Allowance instead.

If your employer refuses to pay SMP on the above grounds, they will need to issue you with a SMP1 form within 7 days of their decision.

Earliest Dates for Maternity Leave

The earliest maternity leave can be taken is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth.

If your baby arrives earlier than expected (before maternity leave officially starts), your SMP will start the day after birth.  You will need to notify your employer, preferably in writing and they will then need to reply with your return to work date.

If you have a very early premature baby, before 25 weeks gestation, your employer will work out your SMP entitlement.

The Earliest you can Return to Work

By law, you are not allowed to return to work within 2 weeks of giving birth.  This increases to 4 weeks if you work in a factory.

How Much Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) are you Entitled To?

If you are an eligible employee, you will receive payment for up to 39 weeks, comprising:

  • The first 6 weeks = 90% of your average weekly earnings (AWE) before tax
  • The remaining 33 weeks = £138.18 or 90% of your AWE (whichever is lower)

Please note that Tax and National Insurance need to be deducted from this sum.

You can ask your HR department for a breakdown of the projected SMP due.

Some employers offer more than the statutory amount and this should be set out in the maternity and leave policy.

The policy should also outline if you need to pay back any additional money paid by the employer on top of SMP if you decide not to return to work.

What if the Baby Doesn’t Survive?

If your baby sadly dies after the 24th week of pregnancy, you are still entitled to SMP.  This applies to stillborn births after 24 weeks and a baby that dies after being born.


[Note: information correct at time of publishing, as per the www.gov.uk website]