If you’re expecting a baby, it’s important to see what maternity rights you’re entitled to at work. You can take up to a year of maternity leave if you’re an employee. 

You might be an employee even if your employer or your contract says you’re self-employed.

You might not be an employee if for example you work for an agency or you’re not guaranteed to get any work. 

If you’re not sure if you’re an employee, check your employment status. 

You have a right to take up to a year of maternity leave. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve worked for your employer, how much you’re paid or how many hours a week you work. 

Maternity leave is separately from maternity pay, which has different rules about who can get it. You might also be able to share your leave with your partner. 

At least 15 weeks before the week when your baby’s due, tell your employer:

That you're pregnant

When your baby’s due 

That you want to take maternity leave 

When you want your maternity leave to start and end (you can change these dates later) 

Your employer should confirm the end date of your maternity leave. If they don’t, it’s worth asking them for it to make sure you both have the same date in mind. 

Your employer can ask to see a medical certificate, such as your MATB1 form. You’ll get this at an antenatal appointment after your 20-week scan. 

You can start your maternity leave any day from 11 weeks before your due date. Your maternity leave will start earlier than the date you pick if:  

Your baby comes early, or:

You're off work with an illness related to your pregnancy, and this happens in the four weeks before the week of your due date 

Your maternity leave will last for a year unless you tell your employer you want to return earlier. It can’t last longer than a year. 

If your employer says you can’t take maternity leave, ask them to explain their reasons as there are more steps you can take if you’re not satisfied with their response. 

To contact Citizens Advice North Herts or Citizens Advice Stevenage you can ring the Hertfordshire AdviceLine on 0800 144 88 48. 

You can also contact Citizens Advice North Herts via northhertscab.org.uk and Citizens Advice Stevenage via stevenagecab.org.uk.