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Can my boss ask me to return earlier or later from maternity leave?

The simple answer is no. You are however obliged to notify your employer of your expected due date and the date you would like your maternity leave to commence.

maternity leave

It is always recommended that notifying your employer be done in writing at least 15 weeks before your baby is due. If this is not possible, for example because you did not realise you were pregnant, you should inform your employer as soon as possible.

All employees have a right to 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave and 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave, making 52 weeks in total.

Once notice has been received by your employer, they must write to you within 28 days to give you formal confirmation of the start and end date of your maternity leave. Your employer will always assume that you wish to take the full 52 weeks’ maternity leave unless you advise to the contrary.

Should it be the case at any time during the course of your maternity leave that you wish to change your return to work date, whether that be earlier or later, you must provide your employer with at least eight weeks’ notice and notify them of your revised return date. You can change your return to work date subject to it not being within the first two weeks’ of giving birth or over and above 52 weeks of the date your maternity leave started.

If you feel that you are being pressured to return to work earlier or later than your agreed start date, you may have a potential claim for pregnancy or maternity discrimination and it is recommended that you seek legal advice for further information.

For specialist support and guidance surrounding maternity leave, discrimination or your employment rights as a mother, please do not hesitate to Call Us on 0800 042 0700, or email us on

Find out more about our Employment department
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