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If I fall pregnant while on maternity leave, what are my rights?

The lowdown on what rights you have should you fall pregnant again while on maternity leave

What happens if I fall pregnant when on maternity leave?

Here’s what you need to know if you fall pregnant whilst on maternity leave

Woman looking worried at pregnancy test

If I fall pregnant while on maternity, am I entitled to more maternity?

Yes. If you fall pregnant while on your maternity leave you will still be entitled to Ordinary and Additional Maternity Leave of 52 weeks for your new pregnancy.

When will it start?

To work out when your new maternity leave will start, you first need to work out the date you are due back at work from your current maternity leave. Decide whether you want to take your full entitlement, if not, you need to give at least eight weeks’ notice if you wish to return early.

The earliest you can start your second maternity leave is the beginning of the 11th week before the week your baby is due. It is up to you to decide when you wish to start your next maternity leave and you should give your employer notice of the date you wish to start your next maternity leave in the 15th week before your baby is due.

If your first maternity leave ends before the 11th week before your next baby is due or before the date you wish to start your next maternity leave you will need to return to work for the interim period. Do check your maternity pay entitlements carefully, and your rights on return to work, if you plan to take consecutive periods of leave. It is up to you to decide what you wish to do but be sure to follow the correct notice requirements for both periods of maternity leave.

I don’t want to return in-between, is there any other leave I can take?

There are some options you can consider.

  1. With at least 21 days notice you can take unpaid parental leave. You are entitled to take 18 weeks Parental Leave per parent per child. It should usually be taken in blocks of a week, up to four weeks a year, but your employer may allow you to take more.
     
  2. If you have accrued annual leave you can use it to bridge the gap. You are entitled to at least 28 days paid leave a year (pro-rata if you work part-time), this may include paid Bank Holidays. Your annual leave still accrues during Ordinary and Additional Maternity Leave. Talk to your employer and take as much leave as possible in the year in which it accrues.

  3. If you are unwell between both periods of maternity leave, you are entitled to take sick leave as normal and you should follow your employer’s normal sickness procedures. If you receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) during sick leave, you should check your maternity pay position carefully as SSP may affect your entitlement to maternity pay.

You should discuss your options with your employer and be sure to give the correct notice for each type of leave. Your employer is entitled to turn down a request for annual leave, for example, if too many employees want to take leave at the same time. Your employer can also postpone a period of Parental Leave where the employer can show that the business would be unduly disrupted but your employer should not refuse annual leave or Parental Leave because of your pregnancy or maternity leave. 

To qualify for SMP do I need to have be back at work for 26 weeks after the last maternity?

No. If you have been ‘employed’ in the same job for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before your baby is due you are entitled to SMP. You do also need to have earnings above the Lower Earnings Limit (£113 a week) during the calculation period for SMP.

Will I get maternity pay for my next baby?

Even though you will be entitled to maternity leave for your next pregnancy, you may not qualify for SMP unless your earnings are high enough in the calculation period for SMP. 

If I fall pregnant while on maternity leave, what are my rights?