Telling your employer
You must give your employer at least 28 days notice of the date you want your Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) to start. Your employer may need your notice in writing. You can change your mind about the date but you must give 28 days notice of the new date.
If it is not possible to give 28 days notice, you must tell your employer as soon as you can. If your employer considers it was reasonably practicable for you to have given notice earlier than you did, they can refuse to pay you SMP.
If you can get both SMP and maternity leave, it is best to tell your employer the date you want your SMP to start at the same time as you tell your employer about your leave.
Most women will be able to take maternity leave from their work. To claim maternity leave you must tell your employer no later than the end of the qualifying week (this is the 15th week before the week your baby is due) that you are pregnant and:
- the date you expect your baby
- the date you want to start your maternity leave
Please read 'Maternity leave' for more information.
Providing medical evidence to your employer
You must give your employer medical evidence of the date your baby is due. This will normally be on the maternity certificate (form MATB1) that you can get from your doctor or midwife.
You cannot get this certificate until you reach the 20th week before the week in which your baby is due (generally the 21st week of pregnancy). Your doctor or midwife will usually give you the certificate at your next antenatal appointment after then.
You should give your employer this evidence as soon as you can and no later than three weeks after the date your SMP is due to start. Your employer cannot pay you SMP without this evidence.
Even if your baby is born prematurely, before the maternity certificate is issued to you, your employer will still need:
- evidence of the date your baby was actually due
- the date your baby was actually born