Planning to have a baby is a very exciting milestone. You will soon become occupied with thoughts of baby names, baby-proofing the house, and cuddling your little angel!

But it is never too early to start thinking about maternity leave. Your employer will ask what your plans are after giving birth, as well as make any adjustments to accommodate your pregnancy.

There is no right or wrong option when it comes to maternity leave: you should choose the option which works best for your family and your health.

Have you ever wondered, what are the different types of maternity leave?

In this article, we will answer any questions about maternity leave, so you can become better informed for your family planning journey.

When to start thinking about maternity leave

Even before you become pregnant, it is a wise idea to conduct research into maternity leave allowances in the UK, so you know exactly what rights you are entitled to.

One of the crucial points to consider is this: after having the baby, how soon will you return to work? Does a career break more appealing to you? Or is it something you are undecided about until the baby arrives?

Think carefully about what you want to do, taking all factors into consideration. Discuss the pros and cons of each option with your partner and family members.

Asking your loved ones for advice can offer you some great insights but remember: what worked for them may not necessarily work for you. Every pregnancy, birth experience and postpartum recovery period is different and unique to the person. Not to mention, no two babies are the same, either!

Don’t let anyone pressure you into making decisions which you are not comfortable with. After all, this is your baby, your body, and your life. So, you have to be honest with yourself and choose the options which put you at ease, for the present moment, and the future.

What are the different types of maternity leave in the UK?

Every employee who becomes pregnant has the right to take up to a year of maternity leave, regardless of the hours worked, how long they have been employed there, or their salary. While on maternity leave, you can stay off work, to give birth and raise your baby.

But you do not have to take the full 52 weeks off if you don’t want to.

So, what are the different types of maternity leave in the UK?

There are 3 options:

  1. Compulsory Maternity Leave (CML)

By law, you must take off 2 weeks after the baby is born, so you are not allowed to work during this period.

  1. Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML)

You can take up to 26 weeks off, which is called Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML).

  1. Additional Maternity Leave (AML)

If you want to, you can take an additional 26 weeks off work, which is called ‘Additional Maternity Leave’.

What maternity pay will I get?

During maternity leave, you are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), which is paid for up to 39 weeks.

For the first six weeks, you receive 90% of your average pay.

After that, you get a flat rate (£156.66 per week) for 33 weeks, or 90% of your average earnings if that is less.

*UPDATE: from April 2023, the weekly rate of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) has increased to £172.48, up from £156.66.*

Click here to use an online calculator to work out how much maternity pay you can receive.

When can I start maternity leave?

The earliest you can start maternity leave is 11 weeks before the week of your due date.

Your maternity leave can start earlier if the baby is born early, or if you are off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the week that your baby is due.

What is paternity leave in the UK?

Fathers are entitled to 1 to 2 weeks of paternity leave.

Paternity leave cannot start before the birth, and it must end within 56 days of the birth (or the due date if the baby is early).

Returning to work after maternity leave

After your maternity leave ends, you may be feeling anxious at the prospect of returning to work.

Not to worry, it is completely normal for mums to feel this way, as they integrate back into a professional environment after several months of being home full-time with the baby.

Follow these tips below, to help you plan for the end of your maternity leave:

  • You will need a realistic plan for childcare, so that someone can take care of your baby while you are back at work. Will you leave your baby with your partner, relatives, childminder, or at daycare?
  • You should have a conversation with your employer as to when your ‘return to work’ date will be. If you would like to adjust your working hours, try and have this conversation with your employer as early as possible, so they can have time to prepare for any changes.
  • If you would like to request any reasonable adjustments, then put this in writing to your employer. For instance, you may want to ask if you can sit down, instead of standing up, if you work in sales.
  • If you want to change your ‘return to work’ date, you must give your employer at least 8 weeks’ notice.
  • If your maternity leave has ended, but you have decided to quit your job, then you do not have to repay the Statutory Maternity Pay you have received. You must give notice at your job in the usual way.
  • You may have annual leave accrued while you have been on maternity leave, so use these if you need some extra time off work.
  • If you are breastfeeding, you might have to express milk while you are at work. You can ask your employer to provide you with a private space in your workplace to do this.

What gift should I give a someone who is going on maternity leave?

At Mama Jewels, our special treats make the perfect present to help your partner, friend, or relative kick off her maternity leave!

Everything in our gift hampers is pregnancy-safe and vegan-friendly, so you won’t find any animal-derived ingredients, toxic chemicals, or eco-unfriendly packaging in our products                                                                                                                                                                                                        

  • Mum & Baby Hamper

At Mama Jewels, we have curated a line of stunning gift hampers, which will put a smile on the face of any pregnant or postpartum mum. Our hampers contain a gorgeous array of self-care products for the mum to enjoy, as well as little treats for the baby!

If you don’t know the baby’s gender, then we have a range of gender-neutral gift hampers to choose from. (We also have blue and pink themed hampers if you do know the baby’s gender!)

An excellent gender-neutral option is our Unisex Mum and Baby Gift Hamper (Leopard/Mammoth).

This gift hamper is filled with goodies that will help get a new mum through the early stages of feeding and onto the troublesome teething months.

The contents of this hamper include:

  • Woolly Mammoth crochet toy
  • Vegan Lip Balm
  • Cotton Bandana Bib
  • Organic Vegan Bump and Baby Balm
  • Lavender Heart mini bath bombs
  • Silicone pineapple teething toy
  • Message card with a personalised message
  • Re-usable kraft gift box, finished with co-ordinating polka dot ribbon

Shop our Unisex Mum and Baby Gift Hamper (Leopard/Mammoth) here.

Browse our collection of Mum & Baby Gift Hampers here

  • Corporate Gift Hamper

Is your work colleague about to start maternity leave? Is your team chipping in for a lovely baby gift to surprise her?

Then, why not browse our Pamper Corporate Gift Hampers?

These delightful hampers contain luxurious beauty products so that the pregnant mum can recreate a spa experience from the comfort of her home.

She will feel relaxed, pampered, and deeply moved, as she sets off on this beautiful new chapter in her life.

You can also find lovely baby gifts in our Corporate Gift Hampers, such as:

  • an adorable stuffed animal toy (suitable from birth)
  • a teething necklace
  • a teething toy
  • a cotton baby bib
  • organic baby soap
  • organic Baby and Bump Balm

Click here to view our collection of Corporate Gift Hampers.

Read more articles like this

To learn more about gift ideas for expectant parents and new parents, click here to read our blog articles on:

About Mama Jewels

Mama Jewels is an independent gift box company, selling planet-friendly artisan gifts, to help make the transition to motherhood easier and more comfortable for pregnant mums and new mums.

All of our products are pregnancy-safe, vegan-friendly, and sustainably sourced. Though our products are made lovingly in England, we do ship worldwide.

Click here to browse our gift hampersspa wellness boxesletterbox gifts, and vegan skincare collection, or create your own gift hamper here.

Read more articles about pregnancy, parenthood and gifts for new mums and mums-to-be on our blog here.

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We hope this article has provided the answer to the question, ‘what are the different types of maternity leave?’