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How to respond to an employee's notification that they are pregnant

Author: Lynda Macdonald


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  • Explain that employees who become pregnant must provide you with notification of their pregnancy no later than the end of the 15th week before their expected week of childbirth, and that this notification must state that the employee is pregnant, their expected week of childbirth and the date on which they intend their maternity leave to start.
  • Ensure that an employee who notifies you of their intention to take maternity leave understands that they may be asked to produce a certificate from a registered medical practitioner or a registered midwife, stating their expected date of childbirth.
  • Where an employee has notified you of their intention to take maternity leave, make sure that you respond in writing within 28 days informing them of the date on which their 52 weeks' maternity leave will end.
  • Be aware that if you fail to provide this written response within 28 days, you will be unable to prevent the employee returning to work before the end of their maternity leave, or to discipline or dismiss them for failing to return to work on time.
  • Explain that if an employee subsequently changes their mind about the date on which they wish to start their maternity leave, they must give 28 days' notice of the revised start date.
  • Appreciate that an employee has no further duty to notify you of anything, unless they wish to return to work before the end of their full 52 weeks of maternity leave, in which case they must provide eight weeks' written notice of their early return.
  • Take appropriate steps to remove a pregnant employee from the source of any potential harm if their work is in any way likely to be a danger to their health or that of their unborn child.