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Important changes to maternity rights

Advice on the changes to your maternity rights, with information on maternity leave, maternity pay and returning to work.
On the 1st April, 2007 the Work and Families Act 2006 came into force. This legislation was designed with the aim of providing working parents with more support. The changes aim to make it possible for more parents to stay at home and look after their babies, at least for the first year of their life. The Act will be introduced in stages and further beneficial changes are planned for 2010.

If your baby's estimated due date (EDD) fell on or after 1st April 2007 you will now be entitled to the following;
  • Up to 52 weeks maternity leave, regardless of the length of time you have spent with your current employer and whether you are currently working full or part time hours. This will be split into 26 weeks of Statutory Maternity Leave (SML) and 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave (AML); different rights apply during each.
  • SMP (statutory maternity pay) is now payable for up to 39 weeks (an increase of 13 weeks); 26 weeks of which are SML and 13 are AML. The first 6 weeks will be paid at 90% of your average weekly earnings. You will then receive £117.18 per week (or 90% of your earnings if it less than this) for the remaining 33 weeks. This amount has increased from £108.85 per week.
  • You are now entitled to return to work for up to 10 days during your maternity leave without forfeiting your right to SMP. Whilst these days are primarily designed for 'keeping in touch' with your employers so that you are able to attend relevant meetings or training that fall during your leave, they can be used however you and your employer see fit. You may wish to use them to ease yourself back into work again slowly. You are able to take these days at any time during your maternity leave apart from in the first 2 weeks after the birth of your baby as these are covered by CML (compulsory maternity leave). CML extends to 4 weeks if you work in a factory environment.
  • If you decide to alter the conditions relating to your return to work you will now be required to notify your employer at least 8 weeks in advance of your return. However, you are now entitled to return to work after your OML or AML regardless of the size of your employer. This means that even if you work for a small company your employer is obliged to provide you with a job.
  • There has also been a change in SPP (statutory paternity pay) which has increased from up to £112.75 per eligible week to up to £117.18 per week.
The above changes are certainly a step in the right direction and will provide you with more support whether you decide to stay at home with your baby or return to work. However, your rights as a parent are set to improve further as before 2010 paid maternity leave is expected to be extended to 52 weeks, and APL (additional paternity leave) and ASPL (additional supplementary paternity leave - to be taken in the second 6 months after birth) are also going to be introduced.

For more information on your maternity rights and the changes in legislation visit

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Am I the only one who thinks that extending compulsory maternity for women who work in a 'factory' is ill-defined and outdated?
The compulsory maternity leave that must be taken is 2 weeks, or 4 weeks for women working in a factory.
Because we all know the only physical and potentially dangerous work environments for new mothers are factories! -Where is the term 'factory' actually defined and how is it's use justified? What about women who work on offshore rigs, construction sites, deep-sea diving, armed forces, farm labourers... the list goes on. Shouldn't we examine why factories were chosen to be singled out, then ensure that the reasoning is applied to ALL work places?! I used to work in a factory. It was a comfortable, hygeinic and safe environment where I worked sat at a desk most of the time. This would have confined me to four weeks off. I have since been made redundant and work in environmental conservation. I regularly have to handle solvents and chemicals, enter confined spaces wearing full breathing apparatus and perform manual handling tasks from manouvering gas cylinders to dry-stone walling -yet only 2 weeks off required. I can't see the sense! Besides which, singling out 'factories' just sound old-fashioned. Oh if women aren't typing in an office, then they must be packing boxes in a factory or beavering away in some dark satanic mill. It's not the 1940s!
by HoneyC 12th Aug 2010, 10:57am
Does anybody know when the 52 weeks Paid Maternity comes into action?
by NikkiB23 14th May 2010, 4:58pm
Hiya. I had a baby 9 months ago and im returning to work from maternity leave in January 2010. I am wanting to get pregnant again but need to know if i will be entitled to maternity pay if i did get caught straight away. If anyone knows the answer to my question please help.Cheers
by anyaf 11th Dec 2009, 9:21am
My baby isn't due until 02nd Feb and i need to return to work 5 weeks after she is born. I have no idea how i am supposed to survive on £125 per week after earning a good salary that pays for my mortgage and utilities. Does anyone know what other benefits i may be entitled to?? Thanks for the help.
by Paulo1 7th Dec 2009, 4:13pm
Doews anybody know by what percentage you maternity money gets cut by each month?
by megan21 13th Nov 2009, 9:14am
by magicbunn 16th Sep 2008, 9:06am
ive just gone back to work 3months after having my baby but now think its to soon am i still entitled to the rest of my maternity leave? ive only worked a week and dont want to go back again till march.
by kal 5th Nov 2007, 12:10pm
how are parents supposed to survive on £112 per week with a baby and mortgage to pay?
by kirsty83 28th Jun 2007, 1:07pm