Managing pregnancy at work

Managing Pregnancy at Work: Are You Taking the Necessary Steps?

Managing Pregnancy at Work: Are you Taking the Necessary Steps?

Are you taking all the necessary steps when managing pregnancy at work? Following a recent Employment Tribunal, an employer lost their case due to not giving their employee paid time off for antenatal appointments or making reasonable adjustments in the workplace. This also resulted in the employee being dismissed from their role due to them taking time off amid health concerns regarding their pregnancy. We wanted to highlight the obligations that must be met by an employer when managing an employee’s pregnancy.

Maternity Leave and Pay are a statutory right, and all employees are entitled to it. Some eligibility criteria exist but if the employee meets these, they cannot be denied the right.

Criteria correct as of April 2024:

  • They are an ‘employee’ and not a ‘worker’.
  • They provide their employer with the correct notice.
  • Earn on average at least £123 a week.
  • Have worked with you continuously for at least 6 weeks continuing into the ‘qualifying week’ (15th weeks before the expected week of childbirth).

If your employee does not qualify, they will bring you a SMP1 form. As their employer, you need to select from a pre-set list of reasons why you’re not paying Statutory Maternity Pay. It is quite simple and clear; the employee can then return this form to the Job Centre which will process their claim for Maternity Allowance.

All employees are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave and can not be forced to take it all or be made to return earlier.

The process

  • You will need to get form MATB1 from your employee. This is proof of pregnancy and necessary to receive Statutory Maternity Pay. They will get this from their midwife however it will not be issued any earlier than 20 weeks before their due date.
  • Your employee will also need to tell you when they wish to start their maternity leave.
  • This form will tell you the expected week of childbirth and enable you to calculate if the employee meets the criteria above so you can write to them to confirm they do/don’t meet the criteria and what entitlement/pay they will receive within 28 days of them notifying you.
  • If your employee wants to change their start date, where possible they need to give you 28 days’ notice.

Time off for Appointments

  • Employees are entitled by law to paid time off for antenatal and pregnancy-related appointments. This includes travel time and the duration of the appointment.
  • Sometimes it may be necessary to allow the employee to start later/finish earlier or the option to work from home following an appointment to reduce the impact however this is not suitable in all circumstances.


  • Your employee will continue to accrue annual leave whilst on maternity leave.
  • With your agreement the employee can request to take annual leave before or after their maternity leave. It cannot be taken at the same time.
  • If the employee is unable to use all their annual leave before your holiday year ends, they must be allowed to carry the leave over, this is a statutory right.


  • An employee’s maternity leave will start automatically if they are off work because of pregnancy-related sickness in the 4 weeks before the week of their due date. Their maternity leave will start the day after their first day off within those 4 weeks.
  • If an employee is suspended from work because of health and safety reasons, as an employer you can start their maternity leave from 4 weeks before the week their baby is due. If their baby is due in less than 4 weeks, their maternity leave will start automatically.

Health & Safety

  • You must carry out a risk assessment for all employees, this may lead to reasonable adjustments being made to the role or workplace. Following the first risk assessment, you should carry out a risk assessment for expectant mothers regularly, remember their condition may change, as often as daily, especially towards the end of their pregnancy, therefore the frequency may need to be increased.
  • For manual roles or roles that require standing for long periods you may need to make the adjustments earlier than for someone who sits at a desk all day.
  • An individual risk assessment must be conducted when an employee tells you any of the below:
    • They’re pregnant.
    • They’ve given birth within the last 6 months.
    • They’re breastfeeding.

Whilst off on maternity leave

Your employee is entitled to 10 Keeping in Touch Days (KITs):

  • These days do not affect their maternity pay.
  • They should be paid their normal rate of pay for these days.
  • The employee does not have to take part in KIT days.
  • If the employee works more than 10 KIT days their maternity leave and pay will automatically end by law.

You will agree to the below with the employee:

  • If they want to work KIT days.
  • How many KIT days do they want to work.
  • What type of work they’ll do on the KIT days.

Returning from Maternity Leave

Your employee must give you 8 weeks’ notice if they wish:

  • to stay on maternity leave longer than planned
  • return to work earlier than planned.

How can HPC help?

There are many complexities when dealing with maternity leave and pay. Our team of experts can offer support to manage this process correctly. We can guide you throughout the entire process, starting from when an employee first notifies you of their pregnancy through to their return from maternity leave.

To find out more information or if you require any advice about managing pregnancy at work get in contact with our team of experts.

T: 0330 107 1037


LinkedIn: High Performance Consultancy

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