52 weeks' leave
Statutory maternity leave is 52 weeks for most employees. To qualify for maternity leave, an employee needs only to give you the correct notice. She must tell you about her pregnancy at least 15 weeks before the date the baby is due, or before the date she wants her maternity leave to start (if this is sooner).
In most cases, the earliest an employee can request to start their maternity leave is 11 weeks before their due date. However, maternity leave will automatically start the day after the birth if the baby is born prematurely, or in a situation where the employee is off sick for a pregnancy-related condition within the four weeks prior to the due date.
Grant full maternity leave
As an employer, you aren’t allowed to refuse a request for maternity leave, and you must grant the full leave requested up to the statutory minimum of 52 weeks. However, if the employee fails to give you the correct amount of notice (without good reason), you can delay the start of the leave or the start of maternity pay.
Annual leave must be taken
Employees are entitled to continue to accrue holiday entitlement during their maternity leave, and they may ask to take this holiday immediately following their maternity leave, thereby effectively extending the total duration of their absence.
If the baby is stillborn (after the start of the 24th week of pregnancy) or dies after being born, the employee is still entitled to maternity leave. Workers who aren’t employees, such as casual or freelance staff, are not entitled to statutory maternity leave.
Fathers are also permitted to take up to 2 weeks' paternity leave following the birth or adoption of a child.