Introduction to this document

Notice of early birth for maternity leave

If an employee gives birth early, i.e. before their maternity leave has started, their leave will then automatically begin on the day after the date of childbirth.

Maternity leave triggers

An employee can generally choose when they want their maternity leave to start, subject to the proviso that it can’t start earlier than the beginning of the eleventh week before their expected week of childbirth (EWC). However, in two scenarios, maternity leave will begin automatically:

  • if the employee is absent from work wholly or partly because of pregnancy after the beginning of the fourth week before the EWC - in this circumstance, maternity leave will begin on the day after their first day of pregnancy-related absence, regardless of any date they may have previously notified to you as the date on which they intend their maternity leave to start. Our Pregnancy-Related Absence Form and Letter Triggering Maternity Leave Due to Absence for Pregnancy-Related Reasons together cover this scenario
  • if the child is born early or prematurely - in this scenario, maternity leave will begin on the day after the date of childbirth, even if that’s prior to the eleventh week before the employee’s EWC.

In each case, statutory maternity pay (SMP) starts when maternity leave does.

Notice of birth

Our Notice of Early Birth for Maternity Leave is intended to cover the second scenario set out above. The statutory provisions say that the employee isn’t entitled to maternity leave unless they notify you as soon as is reasonably practicable after the birth, in writing if you so request, that they’ve given birth early and the date on which their child was born. So, our notice provides an easy way for the employee to inform you in writing that they’ve given birth. It also asks them to confirm both their intended maternity leave start date and the date on which the birth occurred.

Response to employee

Once you’ve received an employee’s notice of early birth, you then have 28 days to respond to them, confirming the new end date for their maternity leave - see our Notifying End Date After Automatic Commencement of Maternity Leave letter.