Managing your employee's maternity leave and pay

If they’re ill or having a difficult pregnancy

If an employee cannot come to work because of a pregnancy-related illness, they should:

  • report in sick in the usual way

  • get their usual sick pay

Pregnancy-related illness can include:

  • morning sickness (nausea and vomiting)
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • backache
  • bleeding

If you're not sure whether an illness is pregnancy related, you can ask them to provide a note from the doctor ('fit note').

It's a good idea to:

  • take the employee's wellbeing seriously, particularly if there are any known health and safety risks (you could also be breaking discrimination law if you do not allow them the time off)
  • be as flexible as you can about the amount of sick leave they take (pregnancy-related illnesses affect people differently)

Recording absence

You should record pregnancy-related absence separately from other sickness absence.

You should not count these absences towards any review or trigger points in your absence policy.

Find out more about:

4 weeks before the baby is due

If the employee is off work because of a pregnancy-related illness within 4 weeks of the due date, maternity leave begins automatically. This is unless you and the employee agree together to delay it (for example, for health and safety reasons).

Once maternity leave starts, you must pay them maternity pay instead of sick pay.

If they have a difficult pregnancy

It's a good idea to be understanding towards an employee who's having physical or mental health difficulties when pregnant. 

For example, consider offering:

  • different work start and finish times
  • working from home
  • extra breaks
  • an occupational health assessment, for example to look at whether a chair can be adjusted for someone with back pain

If they need long-term changes to how they work, flexible working might be a good idea.

The law on discrimination 

It's against the law to treat an employee unfairly because of a pregnancy-related illness.