Maternity: As soon as your employer has been notified of your pregnancy, you are allowed reasonable time off for antenatal care. This time off will be paid at your full pay. Your employer can request evidence of your appointment which you are required to provide.
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Maternity Leave Solicitors
Regardless of your length of service, you are entitled to up to 52 weeks maternity leave.
When you discover you are pregnant you will be given an Expected Week of Childbirth (“EWC”). This date will be crucial to the dates of your maternity leave.
You must notify your employer of your pregnancy in writing no later than the 15th week before your EWC. You can also inform them of the date you intend to start maternity leave. After this has been confirmed, if you wish to change any of the leave dates you must notify your employer with not less than 28 days notice before the original date, or the new intended date if that is sooner.
You cannot start your maternity leave any earlier than the 11th week before your EWC. Your leave will automatically come to an end after 52 weeks.
The first two weeks after birth is compulsory leave for all women. If you work in a factory your compulsory leave is four weeks.
If your employer will not allow you to exercise your right to take maternity leave, you may have a claim for pregnancy and maternity related discrimination under the Equality Act, and / or a claim for detriment (loss).
Whilst you are on maternity leave, you are entitled to the benefit of all your terms and conditions of employment. This means that your annual leave will accrue and any pension contributions or private healthcare must be maintained. You also have increased protection in certain situations. For example if your employer notifies you of possible redundancies you have a statutory right to be offered an alternative position at the company in priority to other potentially redundant employees.
You do not have to confirm your intention to return to work after your maternity leave as this is automatic. However, if you decide to return to work before your automatic date then you must give your employer eight weeks’ notice.
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You will qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (“SMP”) if you have completed 26 weeks continuous employment by the end of the 15th week before EWC.
If you do not have this continuous employment then you can claim Maternity Allowance which is a benefit paid by Jobcentre Plus.
Maternity pay starts when you start your leave and will continue for 39 weeks. The last 13 weeks of your maternity leave (if you decide to take the full 52 week allowance) are unpaid, unless otherwise stated by your employer.
The current rate of maternity pay can be found here; https://www.gov.uk/maternity-pay-leave/pay
If you have 26 weeks continuous employment before the 15th week before the EWC then you are entitled, after the baby is born, to take paid leave of either one week or two consecutive weeks leave to support the mother following birth and to care for your baby.
This right extends to same sex couples.
To exercise this right you must expect to have responsibility for the upbringing of the baby and be either/both the biological father and/or the mother’s partner.
If your Company’s Paternity Leave Policy is silent on pay then you will receive the statutory rate, which can be found here; https://www.gov.uk/employers-paternity-pay-leave/entitlement
Shared Parental Leave
Regulations regarding Shared Parental Leave came into force on 1 December 2014.
In relation to births, if you are entitled to statutory maternity leave, statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance, you may limit your entitlement so that you and the child’s other parents can share the balance of the leave, pay or allowance period as Shared Parental Leave.
In relation to adoptions, if you are entitled to statutory adoption leave or statutory adoption pay, as the “primary adopter” you may limit your entitlement so that you and the child’s other adoptive parent may share the balance of the leave or pay period as Shared Parental Leave.
The scheme makes up to 50 weeks of Shared Parental Leave, and 37 weeks of pay available for eligible parents to take or share. It enables mothers or primary adopters to return to work.
This will enable mothers and primary adopters to return to work before the end of their leave without sacrificing the rest of it which would otherwise be available to them. It can be taken consecutively or concurrently, as long as the total leave taken does not exceed what is jointly available to the couple.
If you adopt a child you are entitled to take Statutory Adoption Leave. If you have been continuously employed for 26 weeks by the week in which you are notified of a match with a child, then you are also entitled to Statutory Adoption Pay. The entitlement mirrors that of maternity leave in that you are entitled to up to 52 weeks.
Adoption may be undertaken by single people, married couples, civil partners, same-sex couples and unmarried couples. Adoption must be done in one of the ways covered by the statutory scheme in order to ensure the availability of statutory adoption leave and pay.
If you are adopting with your partner, only one of you can take adoption leave “the Adopter”. This applies even if you both work for the same employer. Shared Parental Leave also applies to adopters so that the other parent may share the leave period available.
Time Off For Dependants
If you have somebody who is dependent on you, for example a spouse, partner, child, parent or some other adult, then you are entitled to reasonable time off to deal with certain specified situations involving that dependant.
You have the right to take unpaid leave to take such action as is necessary to deal with the emergency or make alternative arrangements for their care.
Situations when time off should be granted include where your dependant;
- Is ill / injured
- Gives birth
- Has caring arrangements disrupted
You must tell your employer as soon as possible the reason for your absence and how long you expect to be off work.
If you have at least 26 weeks continuous then you can make a request for flexible working under the statutory scheme for any reason.
Your employer has a three-month decision period (which can be extended by agreement) within which to consider your request, discuss it with you (if appropriate) and notify you of the outcome.
Your request can only be refused for one (or more) of the eight reasons set out in the legislation;
- the burden of additional costs;
- detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;
- inability to reorganise work among existing staff;
- inability to recruit additional staff;
- detrimental impact on quality;
- detrimental impact on performance;
- insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work; or
- planned structural changes.
Only one request can be made in any 12-month period.
If you have any concerns regarding family friendly rights, or you are considering requesting flexible working hours, or have been refused a request by your employer, please do not hesitate our dedicated Employment Team for specialised and tailored advice.