You don’t have to take 52 weeks, but you must take at least two weeks’ leave after your baby is born (or 4 weeks if you work in a factory).
You’re entitled to this leave, and it’s illegal for an employer to treat you differently as a result. You’re also allowed to have time off to attend antenatal meetings too. It’s important to remember that your employment rights are protected while you’re on maternity leave, so you still have a right to a pay rise (if there’s a mass pay rise), you’re entitled to accrue the number of leave days you normally have while you’re on maternity leave, and you’re entitled to return to work with your company; even if your role has been identified as redundant your employer must do everything they can to provide you with a job role to come back to.
You should make sure you give the correct notice to your employer to start your leave. You should give notice in writing by the end of the 15th week before your baby is due (that’s about 25 weeks’ pregnant) to be able to take your maternity leave. They should respond to you in writing, and if they have a maternity policy in the organisation they’ll undoubtedly meet with you to discuss all relevant details.
The earliest your maternity leave can start is 11 weeks before your baby is due. You can ask for it to start at any point after that, although if your baby is born early, maternity leave starts the day after the birth.
For the latest information on statutory maternity leave entitlement, take a look at the Gov UK website.
If you feel your rights as an employee have been breached during your maternity leave, then getting legal advice can help to protect you and reach an agreeable settlement. Call QualitySolicitors today on 08082747557, and our Free Initial Assessment offers a free five-minute chat so you can see how we can help you, without it costing you anything to find out.