What are my rights during pregnancy?

Content supplied by NHS Choices

When you’re pregnant, you have rights related to your healthcare and your job. After your child is born, you can claim Child Benefit and your child may be entitled to a Child Trust Fund voucher.


You’re entitled to free NHS prescriptions if you:

  • are pregnant, or
  • have had a baby in the last 12 months

You’re also entitled to free NHS dental treatment, including check-ups, if you’re accepted for treatment:

  • while you’re pregnant, or
  • within 12 months of giving birth

Employment rights

All pregnant employees are entitled to:

  • paid time off for antenatal care
  • maternity leave
  • maternity pay benefits
  • protection against losing your job or being treated unfairly because you’re pregnant

You must tell your employer that you’re pregnant at least 15 weeks before the start of the week that your baby’s due to be born. However, it’s a good idea to tell them before this, because they have a legal duty to protect your health and safety during your pregnancy.

You can’t take paid time off for antenatal appointments until you’ve told your employer that you’re pregnant.

Your employer should review the work that you do and identify any changes needed to protect your health and that of your unborn baby. This will include assessing any risks involved in your job.

The Directgov website has more information about working when pregnant.

Maternity leave

As an employee, you’re entitled to up to 52 weeks maternity leave. To qualify, you must tell your employer by the end of the 15th week before your baby’s due:

  • that you’re pregnant
  • the week your baby’s expected to be born
  • the date you intend to start maternity leave

Provided you tell your employer this, you can take maternity leave regardless of:

  • how long you’ve worked for your employer
  • how many hours you work
  • how much you are paid

Directgov has more information about Statutory Maternity Leave.

Maternity pay benefits

Your employer may have their own maternity pay scheme. If they don’t you may be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay.

Child Benefit and the Child Trust Fund

Child Benefit is a tax-free payment that you can claim for your children. It’s usually paid every four weeks and there are separate rates for each child. You can claim the payment for your children, whatever your income or savings.

Directgov has more information about Child Benefit, including how to claim.

The Child Trust Fund is a long-term tax-free savings and investment account for children born on or after 1 September 2002. The government gives every eligible child a voucher to start their fund, but changes apply from August 2010.

Directgov has more information about the Child Trust Fund, including the changes.


NHS Choices

Published Date 2010-12-15

Last Review Date 2010-10-06



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