Can agency workers get Maternity Leave? Ask the expert

I work as a locum, through an umbrella company.  I have been employed through an agency for a few years now. Am I entitled to any maternity leave?

Without seeing any written arrangements pertaining to your work situation, I would anticipate that you’re classed as a ‘worker’ rather than an ‘employee’ for the purpose of Maternity Rights. As a worker you are entitled to take up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave, but would not necessarily qualify for Maternity Pay (either Statutory or Company). However, you may well be entitled to Maternity Allowance (currently £117.18 per week) which is paid for 39 weeks and you can claim it via Jobseekers Plus. The DirectGov website also gives further information on this matter. However, I would also suggest that it is worth speaking to the ‘Agency’ that provides the work you do – to clarify whether you are classed as an employee or a worker according to any contract of employment or contract for services in place.
I wish you all the best with your pregnancy.

Comments [15]

  • Iram says:

    I have been an agency worker since June 2015 working in the same position for a year when I became pregnant in 2016. My contract had been extended for another year until June 2017 and I went on maternity in Nov 2016 – baby due Dec 2016. In Feb 2017 I contacted agency so I could come back to finish my contract only to be told my role has been replaced by a system and there is no role for me to go back to.

    Is the agency allowed to void my contract without informing me? Any advise would be much appreciated, thank you.

  • AlanaJane Taylor says:

    Hi I am on a part time 21 hour contract with the council but I always pick up extra shifts, so work full time hours, will my maternity leave go off my part time contracted hours or will it go off what I have actually been earning monthly?

  • Nusirat says:

    I have been working as with an Agency for almost 2yrs now, I am 19wks pregnant.I got a hint that my Agency is losing its contract with the Company anytime soon, but I haven’t been informed by the Agency but hrs of work are reducing.

    Will I still qualify for SMP, if the Agency inform us of contract ending or no more jobs before my 26th week?

    I intend to inform them about my pregnant when I am 25was.

    Please advise

    • Mandy Garner says:

      Hi Nusirat,
      I am taking it that your employer is your agency. If you are not longer employed by the agency before the end of the 26th week of your pregnancy you will not qualify for SMP. Even if still employed, you would have to meet the earnings criteria which is an average of at least £112 in the eight weeks leading up to the end of the 26th week of pregnancy. However, if you are not eligible for SMP, you may still be eligible for Maternity Allowance –

  • Nussy says:

    I have been working with this Agency for almost 2yrs, do I have a right to Maternity Allowance? I know I don’t have a right to Maternity Leave from what I have been reading so far, but what right do I have as an Agency worker on pregnancy matter?

    • Mandy Garner says:

      To qualify for MA you just have to have been working in an employed or self employed capacity for 26 weeks in the 66 weeks leading up to your due date, to have paid NI contributions and to have earned at least £30 a week in any 13 weeks during the 66 weeks. MA is claimed via your local JobCentre Plus, not through your employer. You should also check if you are entitled to SMP – if you have been working for the same employer since before you got pregnant and are still there as of the end of the 26th week of your pregnancy and earn an average of £112 a week in the eight weeks leading up to the 26th week of pregnancy, you should qualify. You need to give your employer your MatB1 form. They will then be able to tell you if you qualify for SMP and if not, will tell you to apply for MA. See for more.

  • susie sandler says:

    Useful ideas . I learned a lot from the details ! Does anyone know where I would be able to locate a template TN LB-0441 document to complete ?

  • Wayne Fox says:

    do agency staff still get holiday pay whilst on maternity? and who pays for this? the agency theyve worked for or the HMRC? please advise


  • Anonymous says:

    I have been employed by a company on a 12month contract since 12/05/1014 due to end on 31/05/2015. I am now 21weeks pregnant and im really confused if i am eligable for smp as when i leave for maternity my contract will end and there is no job for me to go back to. My employer are telling me that they have never had this situation before and they are also unsure if i can claim anything. This is really worrying me as nobody seems to know what to do. Can anybody please help?

    Editor: If you were not pregnant when you started the contract and are still there at the end of your 26th week of pregnancy, plus earned an average of at least £111 a week in the eight weeks leading up to the 26th week of your pregnancy, your employer is liable to pay your SMP whatever happens after the 26th week.

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm on a contract, but I'm not entitled to statutory maternity pay so I get maternity allowance. Should my employer pay me for my holiday?

    Editor: You still accrue holidays in the normal way while on maternity leave.

  • Anonymous says:

    What if I work for an agency but I am waiting for a contract shortly from the bank I have been working for since January 1st… but I am now 11 weeks pregnant. Have I got any rights with either of the two? Will I be entitled to maternity pay?

    Editor: You cannot be sacked or have a contract terminated or not be given work due to your pregnancy as this constitutes discrimination – In terms of maternity pay it depends on whether you are classed as an employee having NI and tax deducted from your earnings by the agency or are you directly employed by the bank. If the latter, have you been continuously employed by the bank since before your pregnancy? To qualify for SMP you would need to have been employed from just before your pregnancy to at least the 26th week of your pregnancy. Otherwise you should qualify for Maternity Allowance.

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm currently on my first week of maternity and my employer has just informed me that I'm not entitled to statutory maternity pay, but can get maternity allowance. This takes 4 to 6 weeks to process. I'm left with no income and have another child to support. What rights do I have against my employer – it's causing me so much stress and my baby is due in 5 weeks.

    Editor: To claim SMP you must tell your employer you want to stop work to have a baby and tell them the day you want your SMP to start. You must give them at least 28 days notice (in writing if they ask for it) and proof that you’re pregnant. Your employer must confirm within 28 days how much SMP you’ll get and when it will start and stop. If they decide you’re not eligible, they must give you form SMP1 within 7 days of making their decision and explain why. Did your employer follow this timetable? If not, you can lodge a grievance. If you have not already done so, contact your local Job Centre Plus to claim MA - If you claim late, you can get MA backdated for up to three months if you would have been entitled to it earlier. It does not matter why your claim is late. Request this when claiming.



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