Q: Due to having pre-eclampsia I was hospitalised nine weeks before my baby was due to be born and doctors had to deliver her a month early. As a result of this, both my baby and I were very poorly and it meant I was off work before my maternity leave officially started. My baby is now eight weeks old and it was only last week that she was well enough for us to bring her home from hospital. Now I am wondering where all this leaves me regarding my maternity leave from work?
A: In cases where babies are born early, and prior to commencement of the mother’s maternity leave, maternity leave officially starts the day after the baby is born. However, if a mother has been absent from work in the four week period leading up to her due birth date because of complications with her pregnancy, then maternity leave will commence from the date she finished work within that four week period. In your case, as you were off work for nine weeks before giving birth, your absence for the first five weeks should have been treated as sick leave.
A mother is entitled to 52 weeks’ maternity leave, consisting of 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks’ additional maternity leave. Unfortunately there is no provision within the law for further additional leave if a baby is born prematurely. If you have not already done so, you should notify your employers about the early delivery of your baby and provide them with the date on which she was born. This will enable them to recalculate your maternity leave end date. Once your employers have received notice of the early birth they have 28 days in which to respond with the new end date of your maternity leave.
(Article Published 31/07/2017)