Maternity Leave in Europe

Photo of new mother on maternity leave

Maternity leave in Europe is available for mothers who are employees. The time off work is a statutory right, but employers often offer their own packages. Basic information, qualifications, and personalized help is available as guidance.

Maternity Leave in Europe

Minimum leave to care for a newborn in Europe is one year, with maternity pay for 39 weeks of the year. The time is divided into ordinary and additional maternity leave, each lasting six months.

Some employers have different programs for employees, offering various benefits to new mothers. Employees must meet certain qualifications in order to receive the paid time off work.


You must be an employee to get maternity leave. This time off is available no matter how long the employee has been working with the company. The worker continues to be an employee of the company during the year off for maternity duties.


Redundancy is a type of dismissal from a position that may or may not be temporary, comparable to being laid off in the United States. Employers may not make an employee redundant purely because of pregnancy or maternity leave. If an employee is relieved of duties during her leave, another suitable position should be made available when possible.

Unusual Circumstances

Some parents have unusual circumstances that may interfere with their ability to receive paid maternity leave. Some considerations can be made by employers to determine whether the time off work is necessary.

Adoption and Surrogacy

Adoption and surrogacy leave is available on an unpaid status for families that receive a paternal order. Families that adopt or have a baby through a surrogate mother are eligible for time off to care for the child without pay.

Pregnancy Loss

Women who lose their babies may still take maternity leave if they meet the qualifications as an employee. This condition holds true for babies born alive during any time during the pregnancy and for stillborn babies after 24 weeks of gestation.


Communication is of the utmost importance, especially when it comes to an impending leave of absence from work. Requesting maternity leave is an important matter. Ideally, employees should inform their employers roughly 15 weeks before the baby is due, if not sooner. Some employers require a written request. The employer provides documentation outlining the projected time the leave begins and ends, usually within 28 days of the request.

Form MAT B1

The MAT B1 form is a maternity certificate that is to be completed after the 21st week of pregnancy. A physician provides this form, offering information about the pregnancy that is pertinent to the woman's leave of absence, most importantly, the baby's due date.

Taking Leave

Some women may prefer to take leave before the baby arrives. Time away from work can begin as early as 11 weeks before the actual due date. An employer can require a woman to take maternity leave four weeks before the expected date of birth.

New mothers are not required to take all of their scheduled maternity leave. However, compulsory maternity leave of at least two weeks is mandatory for many workers. Those employed in factories must take at least four weeks off work after giving birth. Consider the recommended time off in this article.

Terms and Conditions

Women taking maternity leave in Europe typically have the following terms and conditions during their leave from work.

  • Statutory or contractual maternity pay
  • Maintain employee rights
  • Benefits
  • Continued employer pension contributions
  • Paid vacation and holiday entitlements

Personalized Guidance

Preparing for maternity leave requires quite a bit of forethought and effort. Various organizations offer support for employees seeking information and help for their maternity needs. The following organizations can help.

  • ACAS The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) provides advice about rights and employment issues. Advice is free and private.
  • Labor Relations Agency The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) provides free information and advice for residents living in Northern Ireland.
Trending on LoveToKnow
Maternity Leave in Europe