Maternity and paternity rights if you are employed

Paid time off for antenatal care

If you’re working, you can get paid time off for antenatal care, no matter how long you’ve been in your job. This is in addition to annual leave.

Maternity leave

You’re entitled to a year’s maternity leave. You don’t have to take the full year, but you must take at least 2 weeks off work following the birth of your baby.

Statutory Maternity Pay

If you decide to take maternity leave, you could get the legal minimum of up to 39 weeks Statutory Maternity Pay if you’re eligible.

Maternity Allowance

If you don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay, you can apply for Maternity Allowance. How much you get depends on how much you earn and how much National Insurance you’ve paid.

Employee protection 

The Equality Act 2010 protects pregnant employees from discrimination in the workplace. 

Paternity leave

When your partner gives birth, if you adopt a child or have a baby by surrogate, you may be entitled to 1-or 2-weeks paternity leave and paternity pay. 

Shared parental leave

New parents may be able to use shared parental leave. This allows you to share up to 50 weeks of parental leave, and 37 weeks of pay with your partner.

Statutory Adoption Pay and Leave 

If you are adopting, you can also claim Statutory Adoption Pay and Leave. However, be aware that some rules may be different.

Financial support if you are on a low income or unemployed

If you are unemployed or on a low income, the government may be able to provide you with extra financial support for your child. In addition, you may also qualify for further benefits such as Job Seekers allowance or Cost of Living payments. Please see the GOV UK benefits calculator for more information.


Universal Credit 

If you’re unemployed or on a very low income and don’t qualify for Maternity Allowance or Statutory Maternity Pay, you may be entitled to Universal Credit. 

Sure Start Maternity Grant

This is a one-off payment of £500 from the Social Fund, to help with the cost of your baby. To qualify, you must have no other children under 16, and you or your partner must claim other benefits.

Childcare options and support

Childcare costs can eat up a large chunk of your family's monthly budget. They can vary depending on the type of childcare you need and where you live.

Free childcare

All 3–4-year-olds in the UK are offered 15 or 30 hours of free childcare or early support. The hours can be used at one or more types of registered childcare providers.

Check your eligibility and apply 

Tax free childcare

Tax free childcare is a government scheme to help working parents, including the self-employed. It can be used at the same time as the 15 or 30 hours of free childcare. However, it can’t be used at the same time as childcare vouchers, Universal Credit or tax credits.

Child Care Choices 

Free prescriptions and NHS dental care

In England, you can get free prescriptions and NHS dental treatment throughout your pregnancy, up until your baby is 12 months old. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, prescriptions are always free.

What am I entitled to?

Healthy Start scheme

This is an NHS scheme, giving eligible families with young children (or expecting a child) financial support to buy ‘healthy’ foods such as fruit, vegetables and milk.

Check your eligibility and apply

*All information correct as of February 2023.

Further support

Money management

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Money worries

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