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Document updated/added on 10.09.2019

Topic: Work and parents

pregnancy-related absence form
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Pregnancy-related absence form

Pregnancy-related absence form

If an employee is absent wholly or partly because of pregnancy in the four weeks before her expected week of childbirth, she must notify you of this as soon as is reasonably practicable.  

Automatic trigger

Employees can generally choose when they want their maternity leave to start. However, this is subject to two important restrictions:

  • maternity leave can’t begin prior to the eleventh week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) (unless the baby is born prematurely, in which case maternity leave will automatically begin on the day after the date of childbirth)
  • if the employee is absent from work “wholly or partly because of pregnancy” after the beginning of the fourth week before the EWC, her maternity leave will automatically begin on the day after her first day of pregnancy-related absence. This is regardless of any date she may previously have notified to you as the date on which she intends her maternity leave to start.

Absence wholly or partly because of pregnancy essentially covers pregnancy-related illnesses and suspensions on maternity grounds because of health and safety requirements. However, it only applies to pregnancy-related absences, so if the employee is off sick with flu or another wholly non-pregnancy-related illness, her maternity leave won’t automatically be triggered. In addition, at your discretion, you can still disregard odd days of pregnancy-related absence if you and your employee wish to defer the start of her maternity leave rather than it being automatically triggered.

Notice of absence

The statutory provisions also say that the employee isn’t entitled to maternity leave in these circumstances unless she’s notified you as soon as is reasonably practicable that she’s absent from work wholly or partly because of pregnancy, and of the date on which her absence on that account began. This is where our Pregnancy-Related Absence Form comes in. It provides an easy way for the employee to inform you in writing that she’s absent for a pregnancy-related reason. Our form asks her to confirm both her expected week of childbirth and the date on which her pregnancy-related absence began. You then have 28 days to confirm the date her maternity leave is now due to end - see our Letter Triggering Maternity Leave due to Absence for Pregnancy-Related Reasons.

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