Where an employee wishes to start her maternity leave on her due date, can the employer insist that she start it earlier so that she has some time to relax beforehand?
Employees have the right to choose when to start their maternity leave, the one proviso being that it cannot begin before the 11th week before the week that the baby is due (unless the baby is born prematurely). A pregnant employee is therefore entitled to choose to continue working right through to the date that her baby is born, provided that she remains in good health and is capable of working. There is, however, a special provision that states that if the employee is absent from work on account of a pregnancy-related condition at any time during the four weeks immediately before the week her baby is due, the employer may legitimately trigger the start of the employee's maternity leave. A desire to allow the employee time to relax before the birth would not, however, entitle the employer to insist on, or even request, that the employee begin her maternity leave any earlier than the date she had notified as the start of her maternity leave.