What Happens if I Fall Pregnant While I’m on Maternity Leave From My Current Employer?

Have you fallen pregnant while on maternity leave with your child? You may be wondering whether you will be entitled to further maternity leave and maternity pay. 

This article will provide you with the guidelines and regulations surrounding this topic and shall hopefully provide some advice and tips on the steps women should take to comply with the rules surrounding employment and maternity leave and pay.

Am I Entitled to Maternity Leave?

The short answer is yes, you are entitled to further maternity leave for your new pregnancy, amounting to 52 weeks. This is the same entitlement you will have had for your previous pregnancy.

There is no ‘qualifying period’ for your new pregnancy because you are still treated as employed whilst you are on maternity leave. 

When Can My Leave Start?

As you will currently be on maternity leave, if you wish to return to work sooner than you had planned, you must give your employer eight weeks’ notice of your newly planned return date. The earliest you can start your maternity leave for your new pregnancy is 11 weeks before the expected date of your baby’s arrival, which again will have been the same entitlement that you had for your previous baby.

If there is a window between the 11th week before your new baby is due and the date you are returning to work, then you will need to return to work within that window. However, if you do not wish to return to work during this period, there are a few options available to you:

  • You may take the annual leave you have accrued: While on maternity leave, you still accrue holiday dates. Therefore, you can use your holiday entitlement to block out those days for which you would have been expected to return. You will need to notify your employer of your intention to do this no later than eight weeks before you had originally planned to return.
  • You may take unpaid parental leave: If you plan to take unpaid parental leave, you must give your employer 21 days’ notice. You may take a maximum of 18 weeks unpaid leave.
  • You may take sick leave if you are unwell: If taking sick leave means taking statutory sick pay (SSP), this may affect your maternity pay.
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Notification Week

You may recall from your previous pregnancy that the time for telling your employer that you are pregnant must occur by the end of your 25th week of pregnancy. This notification period still applies for your new pregnancy.

Am I Entitled to Maternity Pay?

As with leave, the short answer is yes, you are entitled to maternity pay for your new pregnancy.

The Qualifying Period

You may recall that to be entitled to maternity pay for your previous pregnancy; there was a requirement that you have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks continuing into the ‘qualifying week’, which is the 15th week before the expected date of the birth of your baby (or as otherwise referred to as the end of the 25th week of pregnancy). For your new pregnancy, there is no requirement that you return to work for 26 weeks before the end of the 25th week of the pregnancy in order to qualify for statutory maternity pay (SMP). 

Eligibility

You must ensure that you give your employer the correct notice in order to be eligible for SMP; you must give your employer 28 days’ notice of the date you wish to start your SMP. Further, you must earn at least £123 a week (gross) in an eight week ‘relevant period’. 

Maternity Allowance

If you are not eligible for SMP, you may be eligible for Maternity Allowance (MA). If you do not earn at least £123 a week, but remain employed, you can claim MA. You should do this from the 26th week of pregnancy and payments for MA may start as early as the 11th week before the baby is due. You can get MA for up to 39 weeks.
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