Working while pregnant

It’s a good idea to tell your employer you’re pregnant as early as possible. The sooner your employer knows, the easier it is to plan your maternity leave.

When to tell your employer

You must tell your employer:

  • you're pregnant at least 15 weeks before your due date – when you’re about 6 months pregnant
  • when you plan to start maternity leave
  • if things change or you change your mind about when to stop work

It’s best to tell your employer in writing, even if you have a good relationship with them.

Your midwife will give you your MATB1 certificate no more than 20 weeks before the due date.

This is proof that you are pregnant if you need this for your employer or for claiming benefits.

Your employment rights when pregnant

If you're pregnant and working:

  • your income from working's protected, as is your job
  • you have the right to take a reasonable amount of paid time off to go to antenatal appointments if you're an employee
  • your employer must act to make sure that where you work's safe for you and your baby once you've told them in writing
  • you have the same rights to build up your annual leave during your maternity leave - think about when you want to take your annual leave and agree this with your employer

Power to the Bump has more information about your rights while pregnant at work

Income protection

It’s against the law for your employer to discriminate, dismiss or make you redundant for anything related to your pregnancy, the birth of your baby or your maternity leave.

It doesn’t matter if you’re part-time or how long you’ve worked for your employer – these rights still apply.

Time off if you're an agency worker

If you’re an agency worker, you have the right to reasonable paid time off for antenatal care if you’ve been with the same employer for more than 12 weeks.

Making adjustments

Once you’ve told your employer in writing, they must act to make sure that where you work's safe for you and your baby. This means making reasonable changes to your work, such as:

  • not doing any heavy lifting
  • offering you a suitable alternative role

You might also be offered time off on full pay.

Maternity leave

You can take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave if you’re an employee.

If you’re in a same-sex relationship, only the birth mother can take maternity leave.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

SMP is the minimum amount your employer must pay you while you’re on leave.

You may get SMP if you meet certain conditions and you’re:

  • an employee
  • an agency worker
  • paid by your employer through PAYE

How long is SMP paid?

You'll be paid statutory maternity pay for up to 39 weeks. It starts when you stop working if that’s in the 11 weeks:

  • before your due date
  • from the date your baby's born (or stillborn after the end of the 24th week of pregnancy)

How much SMP am i entitled to?

For the first 6 weeks of your maternity leave you’ll get 90% of your usual wage. After that, you’ll get the same set amount every week.

Your employer may give you more maternity pay, depending on what’s in your employment contract. While casual workers' rights are more limited than full and part-time employees, there are times when you will be entitled to maternity pay.

GOV.UK has more about maternity pay and leave

Maternity Allowance

If you're not entitled to SMP, you may be able to get Maternity Allowance if:

  • you’re self-employed
  • your earnings are too low
  • you were off sick around week 18 to 26 of your pregnancy
  • you’ve recently stopped working

Maternity Allowance is paid at the same set rate as SMP (or 90% of average earnings if this is less than the set SMP rate) for up to 39 weeks.

GOV.UK has more about Maternity Allowance

Further information and other languages and formats

Translations and alternative formats of this information are available from Public Health Scotland.

Simplified Chinese (Mandarin)

Last updated:
25 January 2023