Women must take the statutory minimum of 2 weeks off after having a baby (or 4 weeks if they work in a factory).  However, they could choose to return to work and be furloughed if there was no work for them.  Note, employees normally have to give 8 weeks’ notice to return to work early but this could be reduced with the agreement of the employer. 

 

This would bring the maternity leave to an end so this would only be recommended if you are coming to the end of your maternity leave anyway.  Alternatively, you could potentially come off maternity leave, be furloughed and return to maternity leave but as shared parental leave because you can take that in blocks, unlike maternity leave.