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Maternity and paternity pay and leave

Maternity leave and pay

Before your baby is born

If you’re working and having a baby, 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.

After your baby is born

Once you’ve had your baby you’re entitled to a year’s maternity leave. You don’t have to take the full year, but you must take at least two 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.

To qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay:

  • you must earn at least £118 a week on average.
  • you must have worked for your employer for 26 weeks when you reach the 15th week before your due date.

For 2019/20 you get 90% of your average weekly earnings before tax for the first six weeks. For the next 33 weeks you get £148.68 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less). The final 13 weeks (if taken) are unpaid.

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.

Use Gov.uk to find out if you are eligible for Maternity Allowance. 

Paternity leave and pay

When your partner gives birth, if you adopt a child or if you have a baby by surrogate, employees may be entitled to one or two weeks paternity leave and paternity pay. Most agency and contract workers aren’t eligible.

To qualify for statutory paternity leave:

  • you must be the child’s biological father, adopter or intended parent or the child’s mother’s husband or partner.
  • you must have worked for your employer for at least 26 continuous weeks by the end of the week before the due date, or the end of the 15th week you have been matched with your child for adoption.

For 2019/20, the rate of Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Shared Parental Pay is either £148.68 per week or 90% of your average weekly wage, whichever is lower.

Shared parental leave

Eligible new parents can use Shared Parental Leave. This lets you share up to 50 weeks of parental leave and 37 weeks of pay with your partner.

To be entitled to shared parental leave:

  • you must be eligible for maternity pay or leave, adoption pay or leave or maternity allowance
  • you or your partner must have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is due, or stay with the employer during Shared Parental Leave.
  • during the 66 weeks before the baby is due, the other partner must have worked for 26 weeks and earned at least £390 over 13 of those weeks.

There are other types of financial support you may be able to claim after you’ve had a baby such as tax credits and free childcare. Read our childcare options and help with benefits article to find out what is available and how to claim.

Statutory adoption leave and pay

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

To find out more about the different types of parental leave, visit the Money Advice Service website.

If you feel that you are starting to worry about your money - we are here to help. The range of tips and advice on our Money Worries pages can point you towards ways of staying on top of your finances.

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