Holiday entitlement for employees on Maternity Leave


While on maternity leave, employees continue to accrue holiday just as they would do if they were at work.  Holidays cannot be taken at the same time as maternity leave and therefore many employees choose to take all their annual leave at the beginning or end of the maternity period.

Under the Working Time Regulations, the only time that an employee can be paid for any untaken accrued holiday, is if the employee leaves the Company - therefore, an employee would not be entitled to be paid for any holiday not taken in the current holiday year.  Should you not be able to accommodate your pregnant employee taking her full holiday entitlement prior to going on maternity leave, then you must permit her to carry the holiday entitlement over to the next holiday year (even though your holiday policy may not allow employees to carry over) and allow her to take this when she returns from maternity leave. 

Failure to allow the employee to carry the holiday entitlement over to the next holiday year could be construed as sex discrimination, as the only reason she could not take the holiday during the year in which it accrued, was because she was on maternity leave. 

Bank holidays form part of the overall holiday entitlement and therefore continue to accrue too, so any that fall whilst the employee is on maternity leave can be booked as normal holiday entitlement.

The employee's holiday entitlement would start again at the start of the next holiday year and she will have between when she returns from maternity leave to the end of the holiday year to take her full holiday entitlement plus any she has carried over from the previous year's entitlement!

For help and advice on maternity matters, you can contact Fiona on

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