Can you change your return date if you have agreed one: ask the expert


My daughter is expecting her baby in three weeks’ time and just found out she qualifies for Maternity Allowance for her part-time job. She told her employer she was pregnant at eight weeks and her boss told her she would only be able to keep her job for three weeks after the baby is born which my daughter accepted and agreed to (she needs the job).  We didn’t know until now that my daughter is actually entitled to maternity leave of 26 weeks.  Has she left it too late to tell the employer she has a right to take the full 26 weeks?

Answer by Vanessa Wheeler

Some years ago I advised a woman in her late teens. Before her baby was born, she was told by her employer that as a special favour she could take two weeks holiday after the birth of her baby, after which she must return to work. She returned to work when her baby was two weeks old.  Had she known at the time of her legal entitlement to take a year off, she would have chosen to take  the 39 weeks of paid leave.

I do not think your daughter has left it too late.  All pregnant employees, irrespective of part time status or length of service, have the right to take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave and return to their job at the end of their leave.  And for many of these employees this leave will be paid for the first 39 weeks

Ordinarily, there are notice requirements that should be met and a time frame to comply with. However, in the circumstances it is very likely these will not apply.

I suggest that your daughter seeks immediate legal  advice.

vanessaVanessa Wheeler advises employees and employers on all areas of employment law. Vanessa has substantial experience in: pregnancy and maternity discrimination (including advocacy before the employment tribunal); flexible working issues and extensive experience in relation to compromise agreements. In a previous role she was funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to deal with pregnancy and maternity discrimination matters. Vanessa has commented on employment law for the Guardian and for BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour. Vanessa can be contacted on 07852265 865 or Meet our Panel of Experts


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