The length of maternity leave and entitlements vary from country to country. In most countries, women have the right to return to work after maternity leave. Make sure that you are familiar with the law concerning your rights at work in your country – from your rights during pregnancy to when you return to work after maternity leave.

Maternity leave and entitlements in various countries

United Kingdom

In the UK, Statutory Maternity Leave is 52 weeks. It is made up of ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’ – the first 26 weeks – and  ‘Additional Maternity Leave’ – the following 26 weeks. Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for up to 39 weeks.


If you are having a baby in Germany, you may qualify for Maternity Allowance. This is paid by the German State Health Insurance. It is financial support provided to pregnant women, from six weeks prior to delivery until eight weeks following delivery, a period referred to as the mandatory Mutterschutzfrist.


In many ways, Canada is a relatively supportive country, with new parents being able to take 52 weeks of parental leave from their jobs.


In comparison, in the USA there is no government-mandated paid parental leave, although new parents are allowed 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

Going back to work

If you want to go back to work sooner, you will have to give the appropriate amount of notice. Tell your employer that you:

  • want to go back to work early
  • want to change the date when you go back

Not going back to work

If you decide not to return to work, you will need to give your employer the normal amount of notice. You will still be entitled to the full amount of maternity leave and pay.

Make sure you find out about your options and entitlements when it comes to maternity leave and pay.