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Maternity & parental rights

This page provides information on employees’ rights in the following:-

  • Rights at work while pregnant
  • Maternity Leave
  • Statutory Maternity Pay
  • Adoption Leave
  • Statutory Adoption pay
  • Paternity Leave
  • Rights on returning to work
  • Flexible work application
  • Parental Leave
  • Time off for dependants
  • Protection of employees who exercise their rights
  • Protection against unfair dismissal

 

 

Rights at work while pregnant

A pregnant employee is entitled to paid time off for antenatal classes

Employers have a duty to carry out a risk assessment to assess the risks to the health and safety of a new or expectant mother or that of her baby.

If the assessment reveals a risk the employer must consider preventative action, if this does not eliminate the risk vary the woman’s work to avoid the risk and if this is not possible, offer suitable alternative work and if that is not possible put her on paid suspension

 

Maternity Leave

A pregnant employee is entitled to
· up to 52 weeks statutory maternity leave
· Statutory Maternity Pay for up to 39 weeks (if they qualify)
· Maternity Allowance from the government if they don’t qualify

She must give notice of the expected date of birth and her intended date to start maternity leave, at least 15 weeks before the week the baby is due. Normally this is a prescribed form MAT B1 which the employee obtains from the midwife.

The employer must then give notice within 28 days stating the date her maternity leave will end.

The employee can choose to start maternity leave at any time up to 11 weeks before the expected date of birth.

An  employee will have to start her maternity leave early if she is off work with pregnancy related illness during the last 4 weeks before the expected date of birth, unless the employer agrees otherwise.

The employer and employee can agree for her to work for up to 10 days during her maternity leave (“Keeping in Touch” days) without brining her maternity leave to an end.

 

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

An employee who has been employed for 41 weeks or more by the expected week of birth on more than the National Insurance Lower Earnings Limit (£107 per week) qualifies for SMP, at 90% of earnings for the first 6 weeks and then £135.45 per week for the remaining 33 weeks.

Maternity Allowance is £135.45 per week.

There is an online tool to enable an employee to calculate their entitlement.

 

Adoption Leave

An employee who adopts a child has the right to
·  up to 52 weeks statutory adoption leave
· Statutory Adoption Pay for up to 39 weeks (if they qualify)

An ACAS guide is available.
 

 

Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP)

An employee who has been employed for 26 weeks or more by the week in which she was notified of being matched with a child for adoption on more than the National Insurance Lower Earnings Limit (£107 per week) qualifies for SAP, at 90% of earnings for the first 6 weeks and then £135.45 per week for the remaining 33 weeks.

 

Paternity leave

The father of the child or partner of someone taking maternity leave or adoption leave is entitled to up to 2 weeks paternity leave and is entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay of £135.45 per week during this period, provided they have been employed for 41 weeks or more by the expected week of birth or (in the case of adoption) 26 weeks or more by the week in which the child’s adopter was notified of being matched with a child for adoption on more than the National Insurance Lower Earnings Limit (£107 per week) qualifies for SAP, at 90% of earnings. Government guidance.

 

Rights on returning to work

An employee who returns after maternity leave or adoption leave has the right to return to the same job on the same terms and conditions that would apply if she had not been off.

If it is not practicable for an employee to return to the same job because a redundancy situation has arisen, the employee is entitled to be offered any suitable alternative vacancy on terms and conditions which are not substantially less favourable to her.
 

 

Flexible work application

An employee with child care responsibilities (or with responsibilities for an adult relative who requires care), can make a formal application for a variation of their contract to enable them to care for the child or relative, by completing a prescribed form and following a set procedure. Click here for further information.

ACAS guidance.

 

Parental Leave

An employee who has been continuously employed for at lest 1 year with responsibility for a child under the age of 5 can apply for parental leave of up to 13 weeks for any one child (18 weeks if the child is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance).

They can take a maximum of 4 weeks in any one year.
They must give at least 21 days notice of the requested dates of parental leave before the start of any period of parental leave.
There is no right for an employee to be paid during parental leave.

 

Time off for Dependants

An employee is entitled to take a reasonable amount of time off during working hours in order to take action which is necessary:
(a)To provide assistance on an occasion when a dependant falls ill, gives birth or is inured or assaulted
(b) to make arrangements for the provision of care for a dependant who is ill or injured
(c) in consequence of the death of a dependent
(d) because of the unexpected disruption or termination of arrangements for the care of a dependant, or
(e) to deal with an incident involving a child of the employee which occurs unexpectedly in a period during which an educational establishment is responsible for the child

This right is intended to cover absences of relatively short duration to cover unforeseen circumstances when there is no time to arrange to book parental leave

Detailed government guidance is available.

 

Protection of employees who exercise these rights

Discrimination against a woman because she is pregnant is sex discrimination 

An employee has the right not to be subjected to a detriment as a result of an act done which relates to pregnancy; childbirth or maternity; maternity, adoption, paternal or parental leave; or taking time off to care for dependants, or an application for flexible working.

A claim can be brought to an Employment Tribunal by an employee who has been subjected to a detriment.

 

Protection against unfair dismissal

Employees dismissed for a number of reasons connected with family rights are regarded as automatically unfairly dismissed and an employee can bring a claim for unfair dismissal in these circumstances even if they have been employed for less than a year.

These reasons are ones connected to pregnancy; childbirth or maternity; maternity, adoption, paternal or parental leave; or taking time off to care for dependants; or an application for flexible working.

A woman who is dismissed while pregnant may not be unfairly dismissed if the reason for the dismissal was a potentially fair one, provided she was not treated any differently in the process adopted than if she had not been pregnant.

She also has the right to written reasons for her dismissal.

In a redundancy situation she has the right to be offered any suitable alternative vacancy on terms and conditions which are not substantially less favourable to her.

Claims of unfair dismissal can be brought to an Employment Tribunal.

 

 

Links

ACAS guidance

Employee guide to pregnancy and maternity rights at work
Employer guide to pregnancy and maternity rights at work

A link to all relevant legislation.

Equality and Human rights Commission

Maternity Action

Working families

 

 

Disclaimer

Please note that the information on this page is intended to be a guideline and is therefore a summary of the law only and not a complete guide. Before taking any action based on this information you are strongly advised to take legal advice. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained on this page is up to date and accurate, no guarantee can be given to this effect.

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