Maternity Rights

Exam Question checklist

 What rights does the employee have?

 Are there any defences for the employer denying those rights?

 What are the consequences of the employer denying rights?

 What advice?

Rights – See also, The award winning abogados de accidentes website

New law applies to all women whose babies are born on or after 6 April 2003. Law contained

in ERA 1999 and the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 2002.

Every pregnant woman is entitled to up to 26 weeks ordinary maternity leave (OML). Women

with 6 months continuous employment are entitled to additional maternity leave (AML). AML

commences on the day after the last day of a woman’s OML for up to 26 weeks from the day

it began.


15 weeks before expected week of childbirth (EWC) the woman is supposed to inform her

employer of her pregnancy, the EWC, the date on which she intends to start her OML. If she

wants to postpone the start date, she must give at least 28 days notice before the date

previously notified. If she wants to start leave earlier, 28 days notice before new start date.

If not correct notice, she may not be able to start on the intended date.

OML period

Earliest date is the 11 th week before EWC, so can start OML 11 weeks before EWC and have

15 weeks after EWC, or she could take 6 weeks before and 20 weeks after or work up to the

birth and have 26 weeks after.

However if she is absent from work wholly or partly because of her pregnancy in the 4 week

period before EWC, she will have to start her leave on that date.

OML is automatically triggered where childbirth occurs before the date notified.

Employer must, once notified of employee’s OML start date, notify employer of her OML or

AML end date.

Rights during OML

Contract of employment continues, entitled to benefit of terms and conditions of employment

which would have applied if not absent (except remuneration). If employer denies her these

benefits the he will be in breach and it will be discriminatory if based on fact of pregnancy.

Returning to work after OML

She returns to work at the beginning of the 27 th week, no notice is needed.

If she wants to return before the end of the 26 th week, she must give 28 days notice, if she

fails her employer can postpone her return period so as to secure 28 days notice but cannot

extend it beyond the 26 week period. NB if employer not given notice of end date of OML

then will not be able to prevent her returning early.