11 Aug 2023

Can you accrue bank holidays (and more) on maternity leave?

Navigating maternity leave communications? Let’s make it seamless and straightforward.

woman on maternity leave

For employers, ensuring clear communication as an employee prepares for maternity leave is of utmost importance. But when it boils down to understanding maternity leave rights, particularly those associated with holiday entitlements, it often feels like navigating a complex maze. In this blog, we’ll unpack the intricate web of regulations to make it easier for all parties involved. Welcome aboard!

Bank holidays during maternity leave

A common query from employers is how bank holidays intersect with maternity leave. Like any other working day, employees accrue holiday entitlement for bank holidays during their maternity leave.

However, since holidays can’t be taken during maternity leave, it’s essential to have a clear agreement on when these will be taken – either before commencing maternity leave or after its conclusion. Bank holidays missed during maternity leave will be added to regular holiday accrual when your employee decides to take their annual leave.

Holiday accrual during maternity leave

Statutory allowance

All employees continue to accrue their statutory holiday entitlement during maternity leave. In the UK, full time employees are entitled to 28 days of annual leave, which may or may not include bank holidays. This means if an employee’s contractual holiday entitlement includes bank holidays, these will also be accrued during maternity leave.

However, it is crucial to note that your employees cannot take holidays whilst on maternity leave – a mutual understanding with the employer can help decide whether these will be availed before the maternity period starts or once it concludes.

Enhanced allowance

If a company offers enhanced leave – essentially holiday entitlements beyond the statutory requirement – the scenario might get a tad more intricate. Since extra days beyond the statutory entitlement cannot be accrued during maternity leave, employers and employees can discuss alternatives. One viable solution might be to offer payment in lieu of these extra days.

Holiday carry over during maternity leave

Typically, holidays have to be taken within the year they are provided for. However, considering you can’t use holidays during maternity leave, and maternity leave might span across two holiday years, a carry over might be essential.

If an employer’s policy doesn’t generally permit carrying over of holidays, exceptions should be made for those on maternity leave.

For instance, if an employee takes the full 52 weeks of maternity leave, making it impossible for them to take their holiday within the stipulated year, they should be allowed to carry those days over to the next year.

Paid time off for ante natal appointments

Expectant mothers are likely to have numerous ante natal appointments ranging from crucial medical scans to beneficial classes like pregnancy yoga. Employers are required to be accommodating of these as they are essential for the well-being of both mother and baby. Partners of the pregnant employee are also entitled to unpaid time off for up to two ante natal appointments that last a maximum of 6.5 hours each – some employers may choose to grant this as paid time off.


The time off must cover the actual duration of the appointment. For instance, if a pregnancy yoga class lasts an hour, that’s the time off that should be granted. Additionally, the travel time to and from the appointment should also be accounted for. This includes appointments that may be scheduled during the regular working day.


Employers might be tempted to ask employees to reschedule appointments to better suit business operations. However, it’s vital to note that while an employer can request a change, they cannot enforce it. The choice remains with the employee. If the employer has concerns about the timing or frequency of the appointments, they can ask for proof of the appointment. Still, it’s always advisable to approach this delicately to maintain trust and good relations with the employee.

If this blog piqued your interest, check out our post on keeping in touch days, for more on employee-employer communication during maternity leave!


Do you accrue bank holidays on maternity leave?

Yes, you accrue bank holidays on maternity leave. They will be added to your holiday allowance after maternity leave finishes.

Do you accrue annual leave during maternity leave?

Yes, you accrue annual leave whilst on maternity leave as a full time employee.

Can you take holiday during maternity leave?

No, you cannot take annual leave during maternity leave. You are, of course, free to travel during your maternity leave but this will not be taken from your assigned annual leave.

Can you carry over holiday accrued during maternity leave?

This is up to the discretion of your employer, unless your maternity leave period was 52 weeks.

Can you miss work for ante natal appointments?

Yes, you can miss work to go to an ante natal appointment. Employees are entitled to paid time off for the duration of the appointment and associated travel.