Maternity Leave

What is a maternity leave policy?

A maternity leave policy is a statutory benefit that you provide for new mothers, where they take a break from work for a while during their pregnancy and after.

The maternity leave policy aims to give mothers a chance to rest, adapt and adjust to their new norm, and bond with their babies before returning to work.

How much is maternity pay?

During maternity leave, you're obligated to provide your employee an allowance for 39 weeks; this is called Statutory Maternity Pay ( SMP ).

The amount of the allowance is 90% of their average salary. You must pay the earrings for the first six weeks of the leave.

How long is maternity leave in the UK/in different countries?

Maternity leave lasts about one year in the UK. The first six months (26 weeks) of the break is called Ordinary Maternity Leave, while the rest is called Additional Maternity Leave.

The leave can start 11 weeks before the predicted week of birth, the earliest time to take the break. An exception is made if the baby was born ahead of its time. 

After birth, mothers need to take at least two weeks' break. But if they work at a factory, the required period is at least four weeks.

The maternity leave policy differs from country to country by how long the break is and the amount of maternity pay. UK maternity leave ranks high but is beaten by Sweden, Iceland, and Norway since they provide longer leave.

Some countries don't even have maternity leave! For example, the US is the only OECD country that doesn't offer statutory maternity leave. 

Other countries that have no paid maternity leave:

  • Marshall Islands
  • Micronesia
  • Nauru
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea 
  • Tonga

What is parental leave? 

Parental leave is another statutory benefit that is made for fathers. When they take time off to take care of their children, this is another employee benefit you are obligated to give your team.

Only in three cases, where your team is eligible for this benefit:

  • Having a baby 
  • Adoption 
  • Surrogacy arrangement

Parental leave Vs. maternity leave

So what is the difference between the two? Parental leave focuses on new fathers, where the break is a short period of two weeks and is used to take care of their kids. 

While maternity leave lasts for about a year, it's for new moms who can't work because of the pregnancy or are recovering from giving birth.

However, both of them have something in common. During paternity and maternity leaves, you must provide your team with 90% of their salary.

Why offer maternity leave?

You are legally entitled to provide maternity leave to your employees in the UK. But you may not have known that it can benefit you and your team.

study found that about 93% of new mothers who take maternity leave are more likely to continue working for 9 to 12 months after birth. 

You should consider providing enhanced maternity leave, a contractual maternity pay where you give a number more than the SMP. Doing this might improve your employee retention, attract new talents, and shows how much you value your team.

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