Maternity, Paternity and Adoption

Nannies are entitled to maternity, paternity and adoption leave as long as they are employed, and statutory payments providing they qualify. You can find additional information on your rights and the protection your are entitled to while you or your partner is pregnant here.

This page contains information on maternity leave and pay, paternity leave and pay, adoption leave and pay, and shared parental leave.

Maternity Leave

Nannies, as employees, are entitled to statutory maternity leave and pay. You must inform your employer when you intend to start your maternity leave by the 25th week of pregnancy, although you can change this date with 28 days notice. Your leave can start any time after the 11th week before your baby is due. You will probably need to give your employer the MATB1 form given to you by your doctor or midwife after 21 weeks of pregnancy. Your employer should then confirm the dates of your maternity leave in writing within 28 days of you informing them of your intention to take maternity leave.

Statutory maternity leave is triggered automatically by the live birth of your baby at any point in pregnancy, stillbirth after 24 weeks and pregnancy related illness in the 4 weeks before your due date.

Do I need to take all 26 weeks of maternity leave? What if I want to take more or less, or I don’t want to go back?

The minimum maternity leave you can take (compulsory maternity leave) is 2 weeks. You are entitled to 26 weeks statutory maternity leave plus 26 weeks additional maternity leave. Your employer should anticipate that you will take all 52 weeks of maternity leave. If you wish to return earlier you must give 8 weeks’ notice of your intention to return to work. If you don’t wish to return you should give your employer the notice specified in your contract. You can also share your leave with your partner, called Shared Parental Leave.

What happens to my holiday allowance while I am on maternity leave?

You continue to accrue holiday throughout your maternity leave. Your employer cannot prevent your from taking your holiday on the grounds that you have been on maternity leave. You can request to take your holiday for the year before starting maternity leave and add your holiday entitlement to the end of your maternity leave. If your leave year ends while you are on maternity leave and you have not taken all your holiday then your employer is still obliged to pay you that holiday. If you give notice at the end of your maternity leave that you are not returning to work then any holiday accrued during the leave year where you were on maternity leave must be paid.

Do I have the right to have my old job back?

If you take 26 weeks of statutory maternity leave you have the right to return to your old job under the same conditions as before. If you take the additional maternity leave and your employer can show that it is not practical for you to have your old job back because, for example your job no longer exists in its previous form, then you do not have the same right to return to work.

Can I bring my baby to work with me?

You employer does not have to let you bring your baby to work with you as you only have the right to return under the same conditions as before.  Please bear in mind that if you already are in a nanny share and you plan to bring your baby to work with you this will be a share between 3 families and OFSTED will request that you register on the compulsory part of the early years register in accordance with the Childcare Act 2006.

Many employers feel that as you are benefiting from being able to bring your child to work you should take a reduction in pay, or agree to a pay-freeze for a specified amount of time. Whether you accept this or not is entirely up to you and it is not possible to specify what kind of reduction in pay would be reasonable, however it is important to remember this does not change your situation to that of a nanny-share. Whilst there are similarities, as your employer’s children will no longer be receiving sole care, you remain an employee and are required to carry out your employer’s wishes whereas in a nanny share both sets of parents have an equal say.

Can I request flexible working?

You have the same right as any parents with children under the age of 16 to request flexible working and your employer must consider the request before responding to you in writing.

Qualifying for maternity pay

You are entitled to 39 weeks Statutory Maternity Pay which your employer can reclaim. This is 6 weeks at 90% of your gross earnings and then 33 weeks at the standard rate (currently £139.58) or 90% of your earnings, whichever is the lower figure. If you are not entitled to SMP because, for example, you have not been in your job for long enough or you earn below the threshold you may be entitled to Maternity Allowance. Find out more about SMP and Maternity Allowance here.

To qualify you must have been in your job for at least 26 weeks before your 25th week of pregnancy (15 weeks before your baby is due) and still be employed in the 25th week of pregnancy. In practice this means you need to have been in your job about a month before you fall pregnant.

Your pay is worked out based on a 'relevant period'. This a minimum of an 8 week period before the payday in or before your 15th week of pregnancy. If you work reduced hours or take unpaid leave during this period this will affect the amount of maternity pay you receive. You must earn a minimum of £112 per week in these weeks to receive statutory maternity pay. If you work overtime during these weeks then 6 week period where you receive 90% of your pay will be paid at 90% of your earnings including overtime.

If you have two employers and you earn a minimum of £112 per week from each employer then you will receive SMP from each employer.

You can calculate your expected pay using the Government's tool.

Paternity Leave

Most employees are entitled to paid Paternity Leave, a period of 1 or 2 working weeks around the time of the birth (it must be end within 56 days of the birth) that must be taken in one block, providing that they have worked for their employer for 26 weeks by the time the mother is in the 25th week of pregnancy (15 weeks before the baby is due). You must indicate when you want your leave to start but you do not have to specify a date. You can say that you want your leave to start the day of the birth or three/five/ten days after the birth, but you must take all your leave at once so you cannot take 3 days around the time of the birth and the remaining days a month later. You must notify your employer of your intention to take paternity leave a minimum of 15 weeks before the baby's due date, and specify the duration and start point of your paternity leave. If you want to change your start date you must give 28 days notice to your employer.

Statutory Paternity Pay is £139.58 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever figure is lower, and is subject to Tax and National Insurance.

As with maternity leave, you will automatically get paternity pay and leave providing that you qualify for both if your baby is born alive at any point during pregnancy or stillborn after 24 weeks.

Qualifying for paternity leave

You must be taking the time off in order to care for the child and be the parent, or the husband/partner of the mother. In cases of adoption you must be the secondary adopter or the intended parent if it is a surrogacy arrangement.

Am I entitled to time off before the birth?

Fathers and partners (including same sex partners) are entitled to unpaid time off to attend up to 2 ante-natal appointments, lasting a maximum of 6 and a half hours. Your employer cannot ask to see the appointment card but can ask you to complete a signed declaration to justify the time off.

Can I request flexible working?

You have the same right as any parents with children under the age of 16 to request flexible working and your employer must consider the request before responding to you in writing.

Can I bring my baby to work with me?

You employer does not have to let you bring your baby to work with you as you only have the right to return under the same conditions as before.  Please bear in mind that if you already are in a nanny share and you plan to bring your baby to work with you this will be a share between 3 families and OFSTED will request that you register on the compulsory part of the early years register in accordance with the Childcare Act 2006.

Many employers feel that as you are benefiting from being able to bring your child to work you should take a reduction in pay, or agree to a pay-freeze for a specified amount of time. Whether you accept this or not is entirely up to you and it is not possible to specify what kind of reduction in pay would be reasonable, however it is important to remember this does not change your situation to that of a nanny-share. Whilst there are similarities, as your employer’s children will no longer be receiving sole care, you remain an employee and are required to carry out your employer’s wishes whereas in a nanny share both sets of parents have an equal say.

We are adopting, do I get paternity leave?

If you would normally qualify for paternity leave and pay then you will qualify if you are the secondary adopter. You must have worked for your employer for 26 continuous weeks by the time you are matched, and you can choose whether your leave starts on the placement date or a specified length of time after the placement date. For overseas adoptions you can choose the date your child arrives in the UK or a specified length of time after that date. For adoption via a surrogacy arrangement you can ask for your leave to start the day of the baby's birth or the day after.

You do not qualify for statutory paternity pay and leave if you have had time off paid for adoption appointments.

Qualifying for paternity pay

In order to qualify for paternity pay you must meet the qualifying conditions for paternity leave (be an employee who has worked for the employer for at least 26 continuous weeks by 25th week of pregnancy), still be employed by the same employer at the time of the baby's birth and earn at least £112/week. You must give your employer form SC3 at least 15 weeks before the baby is due (form SC4 if you are adopting).

If you do not qualify your employer will inform you using form SPP1.

Adoption Leave

When you adopt a child you are entitled to 52 weeks of adoption leave - 26 weeks Ordinary Adoption Leave and 26 weeks Additional Adoption Leave providing you are an employee, give proof of the adoption or surrogacy if requested and give notice of your intention to take Adoption Leave within 7 days of being matched with a child. In your notice of intention you must say what date you want your leave to start, how long you intend to take off and the date of placement. You can use the Government's planner to calculate the dates for your adoption leave.

If you are in a couple only one person is entitled to take the 52 weeks of leave, but you or your partner may be able to take paternity leave.

The legislation surrounding statutory adoption pay and leave is very similar to that surrounding maternity leave. Your employment rights are protected while on leave and you have the right to return to your job under the same conditions at the end of Ordinary Adoption Leave.

Am I entitled to time off before the adoption takes place?

Once you have been matched with a child you are entitled to paid time off for up to 5 appointments. You can also start your adoption leave just before your child comes to live with you.

If you are the secondary adopter you are entitled to unpaid time off for up to 2 appointments.

If you are adopting via a surrogacy arrangement the right to unpaid time off for up to 2 appointments can be used to attend antenatal appointments with the surrogate.

When does adoption leave start?

The start date for adoption leave depends whether it is a UK adoption, an adoption from overseas or an adoption via a surrogacy arrangement.

For adoptions within the UK your leave may start a maximum of 14 days before your child starts living with you. This includes fostering arrangements before the adoption.

For adoptions from overseas your leave can start the day the child arrives in the UK, or within 28 days of this date.

For adoptions via a surrogacy arrangement your leave may start the day your child is born or the following day.

What if the date for the adoption changes?

If the date fixed for the placement or the date of arrival of your child in the UK changes then you must inform your employer within 28 days.

What happens if I am fostering before adoption?

You are entitled to adoption pay and leave from the point that the child comes to live with you, providing that you qualify. You must, however, give your employer notice within 7 days of being informed of the start date of the fostering arrangement and give them at least 28 days notice of your intention to start your leave.

Can I bring my child to work with me?

You employer does not have to let you bring your child to work with you as you only have the right to return under the same conditions as before.  Please bear in mind that if you already are in a nanny share and you plan to bring your child to work with you this will be a share between 3 families and OFSTED will request that you register on the compulsory part of the early years register in accordance with the Childcare Act 2006.

Many employers feel that as you are benefiting from being able to bring your child to work you should take a reduction in pay, or agree to a pay-freeze for a specified amount of time. Whether you accept this or not is entirely up to you and it is not possible to specify what kind of reduction in pay would be reasonable, however it is important to remember this does not change your situation to that of a nanny-share. Whilst there are similarities, as your employer’s children will no longer be receiving sole care, you remain an employee and are required to carry out your employer’s wishes whereas in a nanny share both sets of parents have an equal say.

Qualifying for adoption pay

You are entitled to 39 weeks Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) unless you are adopting privately, adopting a family member or stepchild, or becoming a special guardian or kinship carer . The amounts are identical to Statutory Maternity Pay. You must give your employer a minimum of 28 days notice of when you want to stop work and start receiving SAP.

To qualify you must have been in your job for at least 26 weeks by the week that you are matched with a child. You must also earn on average £112 per week, notify your employer within 7 days of being matched with a child* and give proof of the adoption or surrogacy. The document which acts as proof of adoption must give your details as well as the agency's details, the match date, the placement date.

*For overseas adoptions the match date is replaced by the date of your official notification, which gives you permission to adopt from abroad. If you are adopting a child with your partner you must also sign form SC6 which declares that you are not take paternity leave and pay. The proof of adoption document must also show the official notification that you are allowed to adopt and the date the child arrived (or is expected to arrive) in the UK.

*For surrogacy arrangements you must have been employed continuously for 26 weeks minimum by the surrogate's 25th week of pregnancy (15 weeks before the baby is due). You must tell your employer the baby's due date and when you want to start your leave before the surrogate's 25th week of pregnancy (15 weeks before the baby is due). Your employer may request a statement signed in the presence of a legal professional to confirm that you have already applied for or will apply for a parental order within 6 months of your child being born

If you do not qualify your employer must give your form SAP1 within 7 days of their decision with an explanation.

Shared Parental Leave

Parents of babies born or adopted after 5 April 2015 in England, Scotland and Wales are entitled to split the mother's entitlement to maternity leave between them in an arrangement called Shared Parental Leave, providing they qualify and take the leave before the baby's first birthday or within one year of the adoption placement. This leave may be paid as Statutory Shared Parental Pay, which is £139.58 or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is the lower figure. Starting Shared Parental Leave and Pay triggers the end of Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay, even if the mother is in the first 6 weeks of Statutory Maternity Pay which is paid at 90% of her gross earnings.

Qualifying for Shared Parental Leave

In order to be able to take Shared Parental Leave you must be the parent of the child, the husband/wife/civil partner of the mother or adopted or the partner of the child's parent providing s/he and the child live with you. You must also have been employed by your employer for 26 continuous weeks before the 25th week of pregnancy (or the placement date in case of adoption) and you must remain employed by the same employer throughout your Shared Parental Leave.

Additionally your partner must qualify for one of the following:

  • statutory maternity pay or leave
  • statutory adoption pay or leave
  • maternity allowance

You must give 8 weeks notice of your intention to take this leave, and your employer may request a copy of the child's birth certificate and the name and address of your partner's employer. Each parent must apply individually.

Qualifying for Statutory Shared Parental Pay

If you're an employee and you qualify for statutory maternity pay, statutory adoption pay or maternity allowance or your qualify for statutory paternity pay and your partner qualifies for one of the above, you will be able to receive Statutory Shared Parental Pay.

How can the leave be split?

A mother must take a minimum of 2 weeks paid leave (factory workers must take 4 weeks). The remaining 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay can be shared between the parents as they wish into 3 blocks of at least 1 week.

Can we both be on leave at the same time?

Yes, you and your partner can be on leave at the same time.

Can I still benefit from my Keeping in Touch (KIT) days?

Yes, during maternity or adoption leave the mother or primary adopter is entitled to 10 KIT days. During Shared Parental Leave each partner is entitled to 20 Shared Parental Leave In Touch (SPLIT) days. KIT and SPLIT days must be agreed by both you and your employer.

How do I start Shared Parental Leave?

Shared Parental Leave is started by either the mother returning to work or the mother giving binding notice (a date which cannot be changed) of her return to work. Maternity Pay or Allowance or Adoption Pay must also end at this point.

We've decided not to take Shared Parental Leave, can we change our minds?

As long as the planned return to work date hasn't passed AND the mother changes her mind within 6 weeks of the birth having given binding notice before the work OR the mother or adopter's partner has died OR you find out neither of you is eligible during the 8 week notice period that you give to your employer, then you may reverse your decision to take Shared Parental Leave.