Pregnancy and maternity leave

Last updated: 26/03/2024


You are legally protected during a medically confirmed pregnancy and during maternity leave.  An employer cannot use pregnancy as a reason to refuse to employ someone, terminate a contract of employment during a probationary period or transfer an employee to another post.

You are not obliged to reveal that you are pregnant unless you are requesting to benefit from provisions to protect pregnant women.

If you need assistance or encounter any difficulties, you can make an appointment at the Labour Inspectorate in one of the following three ways:

When you attend your appointment, please bring the documents required to complete your procedure.

How to take maternity leave

You should notify your employer, without any particular deadline, of:

  • The date of the start of your maternity leave 
  • The date of your return to work

The length of your maternity leave

It is normally forbidden to work two weeks before the birth and six weeks after the birth.

Maternity leave is applied as follows :

 Prenatal LeavePostnatal Leave
1st or 2nd birth8 weeks10 weeks
From the 3rd birth onwards

8 weeks
10 weeks

18 weeks
16 weeks

Twin pregnancies

12 weeks
16 weeks

22 weeks
18 weeks

Multiple births (when more than two babies are expected)24 weeks22 weeks

Whatever the number of existing and expected children, some of the prenatal leave entitlement, not exceeding four weeks, may be taken after the birth, subject to the agreement of the attending physician.

Pre-term deliveries

In the case of deliveries before the expected date, there is no reduction in the total amount of maternity leave.

Medical conditions

In the case of a medical condition that is confirmed by a medical certificate, the maternity leave can be extended by two weeks before the expected delivery date, and by four weeks afterwards.

Hospitalisation of the newborn baby

Postnatal leave may be extended if the baby has to be hospitalised for longer than six weeks after the birth.

Pregnancy and maternity leave and your contract

The cessation of work during statutory maternity leave suspends the contract of employment for the corresponding period and is not grounds for a termination of the contract.

You may request a temporary change of employment on health grounds.  Your employer can also request this, following advice from an occupational doctor.  There must be no decrease in remuneration if this request arises from your employer or if you have worked at the company for less than one year.

Pregnant women may leave work five minutes before the agreed time with no reduction in salary.


The employer cannot terminate your contract during your pregnancy, maternity leave or up to four weeks after the end of this leave, except if:

  • He or she can prove that there is serious misconduct not linked to pregnancy
  • The company closes or reduces its activity
  • You have a fixed term contract that has expired

In these cases, the dismissal must be notified to the Labour Inspector and will first be examined by the committee on dismissals and redundancy.  A dismissal cannot take effect or be notified during the scheduled period of maternity leave, i.e. eight weeks before the expected date of delivery and eight weeks afterwards.

If you are dismissed but your employer is not aware that you are pregnant, the dismissal can be cancelled.  In such cases, you should send your employer a medical certificate certifying that you are pregnant.  This should be sent by registered post with confirmation of receipt within 15 days following the notice of your dismissal.


In cases of medically confirmed pregnancy, you can resign without notice and without having to pay any penalties for resigning at short notice.

Payment of maternity pay

Maternity leave is calculated on a daily basis. 

After your maternity leave

Returning to work

You can continue in the same work or similar work with remuneration that is at least equivalent.  Your rights relating to length of service are not affected.


If you decide not to return to work, you must tell your employer by registered letter with confirmation of receipt 15 days before the end of your maternity leave.  This resignation is exempt from the usual notice period.

During the following year, you can request to return to work by registered letter with confirmation of receipt.  Your employer is obliged to re-employ you as a priority within a deadline of one year, in a post suited to your qualifications.  If you are re-employed, your employer must afford you all the benefits that you were entitled to before your departure.

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