Maternity & Paternity Leave
If you are an expectant mother or father, it is important to know what employment rights you have both before and after you welcome your new arrival.
If you are unsure what your rights are, have problems with your leave or pay, or feel you have been discriminated against because of your family situation, you should speak to the employment law experts at Davis Blank Furniss.
Maternity leave – what are your rights?
A pregnant employee is entitled to take up to 52 weeks maternity leave, which will be worked out with your employer in advance. The first 26 weeks are regarded as Ordinary Maternity Leave, while the next 26 fall under Additional Maternity Leave.
You do not have to take the full amount of time off, but you must take at least 2 weeks (or 4 weeks if you work in a factory).
You will receive Statutory Maternity Pay for your first 39 weeks of leave. Your employer is obliged to pay you 90% of your average pre-tax weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks, and thereafter either 90% of your earnings or £138.18 a week (whichever is the lower amount).
Throughout your maternity leave, your wages will be taxed as they would normally.
Returning to work
A key concern for many employees is what happens when they return to work. Some women worry that they may be treated less favourably by their employer if they fall pregnant. For example, they may miss out on any promotion opportunities that come up while they are away, or they may be put first in line if their company needs to make redundancies.
It is unlawful for an employer to treat you differently because you are pregnant, as this is a characteristic that is protected from discrimination. If you feel you have received less favourable treatment, you should speak to our team as soon as possible.
Paternity leave – what about Dad?
For fathers, Ordinary Paternity Leave can be either one or two weeks. Unlike mothers, who can begin their leave before the birth, fathers can only take paid leave once the baby is born.
There is also the opportunity to take Additional Paternity Leave of up to 26 weeks, but this will depend on how much unused leave your partner still has once they return to work.
From April 5th 2015, the system for paternity leave will change to one of Shared Parental Leave, which will provide more flexibility for you and your partner to decide how you will split up your 52-week parental leave.
As with maternity pay, during your leave you will receive 90% of your average weekly wage, or £138.18 a week (whichever is lower), and this will be taxed as normal.