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When do expectant employees have to notify employers about maternity leave?

The maelstrom of delight surrounding the recent arrival of the royal baby must surely have been helped by the huge anticipation that built up in the days leading up to the birth. After all, the world's media had been encamped outside the hospital for over a fortnight waiting for something to happen.

Why the wait? The Duchess of Cambridge had kept the world guessing about the exact due date, saying only that the birth was expected in 'mid-July', and as the press stood by rumours began to spread that they could still be standing there in early August.

How does this rather exceptional situation compare with the workplace, and the information a pregnant woman typically has to give to her employer?

Expectant employees have to keep their employers in the loop much earlier. Mums-to-be are obliged to tell their employer that they are pregnant, the expected week of childbirth (EWC), and the date they'd like their maternity leave to begin by the end of the 15th week before the EWC.

Employers have 28 days to respond in writing, stating the end of the maternity period and the day when the employee is expected back at work. Many employers find it a good opportunity to set out other details, such as arrangements for 'Keeping in Touch' days, and procedures that the employee should follow if she wants to return to work sooner than the stated return date.

Working mums to be can change their mind about the start date of their maternity leave, but have to give their employers at least 28 days' notice before the revised start date.

Pregnant women and employers can find information and advice about Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay on the Acas website, and in its Advisory booklet - Flexible working and work-life balance . They will also find practical training courses on Maternity, paternity and adoption, including everything they might need to know about family-related policies.

Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions page for more information.

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