Provided she meets certain eligibility requirements, any new mum is entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave – but not on full pay.
The government's statutory maternity leave – that is, the absolute minimum employers have to offer – guarantees a new mum just six weeks of leave on 90% of her average weekly earnings.
After that, she's entitled to 33 weeks of statutory maternity pay of £145.18 per week (or 33 weeks on 90% of her average weekly earnings if that sum's lower than £145.18).
Thankfully, some companies offer much greater support to new mums, and price comparison website Money Guru has helpfully compiled a list of the UK's top ten workplaces for maternity leave.
Offering new mums 36 weeks of maternity leave on full pay, management consultancy firm Accenture is top of the list. Transport for London places second because it offers 26 weeks of fully paid maternity leave regardless of how long a new mum has worked there.
At Netflix, another company in the top 10, parents are allowed to take off as much time as they want in the first year, and will receive full pay for the duration. After the first year, they can choose to return to work on either a full or part-time basis.
Check out Money Guru's top 10 companies for maternity leave below:
2. Transport for London
10. Civil Service
However, it was reported in February 2018 that just 2% of eligible couples were actually taking up this option. This disappointing take-up has been blamed on a lack of awareness and understanding of how Shared Parental Leave works, but the gender pay gap also plays a part: because women in full-time work earn an average of 8.6% less than men, they are more likely to sacrifice their lower pay cheque in favour of caring for a baby.
On top of this financial incentive, registered psychologist Rachel Hard told Money Guru that "there is still pressure on many new mums and dads to stay within traditional gender roles" when it comes to taking parental leave.
"The title 'maternity leave' gives a gendered role or expectation of who can on should take leave to care for a new baby," she explained. "The traditional male and female roles are often still in play despite social sanctions to establish equality."
However, Money Guru found that some companies are taking active steps to "overcome gender norms" and promote shared parental leave. At Independent Living Fund Scotland, new parents of any gender can take up to 26 weeks of fully paid leave.
Meanwhile, Lloyds Banking Group offers what it calls an "Agile Working Scheme" which allows any employee to choose part-time work, a job share arrangement, reduced hours, compressed hours, home working, or another flexible arrangement. The company says a third of employees who are eligible make use of the scheme.
Check out Money Guru's top 10 companies for shared parental leave below:
1. American Express
2. Barclays Bank
3. Crown Prosecution Service
5. Independent Living Fund Scotland
6. Intellectual Property Office
7. Lloyds Banking Group
8. Pinsent Motors
9. Royal Bank of Scotland
10. Southdown Housing