Employment law advice in Wimbledon, South West London, Epsom and Surrey

Maternity and Paternity Rights – advice for employers

Starting a family is an exciting but sometimes overwhelming time for an employee. As their employer, they will look to you to ensure their employment rights are safe whilst on maternity or paternity leave.

Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption rights apply to all employees both before and after birth or adoption. Mothers, fathers, partners and adoptive parents are entitled to paternity, maternity or adoption leave and pay and shared parental leave. As an employer you must comply with these rights and provide support to your employees during these periods.

Employers must provide maternity leave as well as not discriminate and make reasonable adjustments as well as ensuring and job security during that leave. It is important to maintain communication with the employee and be flexible, demonstrating respect and fairness towards your employees, which promotes a positive and supportive workplace culture.

Maternity Rights

Expectant mothers are entitled to a total of 52 weeks maternity leave, made up of 26 weeks ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks of additional leave, including 39 weeks of paid leave. The first two weeks after a child is born are compulsory, but an employee doesn’t have to take the full 52 weeks if they don’t wish to do so. Employers must provide a suitable working environment during pregnancy, make reasonable adjustments as needed, and keep the job open during leave. Dismissal or discrimination during pregnancy is prohibited.

Maternity Holiday Entitlement

Employees will continue to accrue usual holiday entitlement whilst on maternity leave. The current entitlement to maternity holiday is 5.6 weeks (28 days, if you work five days a week) of paid annual leave, including bank holidays. Employers must allow employees to carry over any untaken holiday leave, if they are unable to take it due to their maternity leave.

Maternity Pay Entitlement

Employees are eligible for the Statutory Maternity Pay. Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for 39 weeks. The first 6 weeks employees are paid 90% of their weekly salary. The remaining 33 weeks are paid at either £156.66 per week or 90% of their weekly earnings, whichever is the lower.

Returning to work

Employees who take maternity leave have the right to return to work on the same terms and conditions as before their leave. If their job no longer exists, employers must offer a suitable alternative. It is illegal to dismiss an employee due to pregnancy or maternity leave. Additionally, employees are entitled to request flexible working arrangements when they return to work, which the employer must consider. This ensures that employees are not disadvantaged for taking time off to have a child.

Paternity Rights

Fathers are entitled to two weeks of paternity leave, with pay and the right to take additional unpaid parental leave. Fathers are also entitled to flexible working arrangements and time off for antenatal appointments.

As an employer, you must not discriminate against employees based on their parental status or treat them unfavourably because of pregnancy or maternity. You must provide reasonable adjustments to help pregnant employees and new parents do their job, and keep their job open during maternity leave. You must also be aware of your employees entitlements to parental leave, which is unpaid and can be taken any time before the child turns 18.

Paternity Holiday Entitlement

Paternity leave counts as continuous service for calculating holiday entitlement. Statutory paternity pay includes any holiday pay due to the employee during the leave period. Fathers are entitled to carry over any unused holiday to the next leave year if their paternity leave overlaps with the holiday year.

Paternity Pay Entitlement

Fathers are entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay, which currently stands at £156.66 per week or 90% of their weekly earnings, whichever is the lowest.

Returning to work

On returning from Paternity Leave, fathers have the right to return to the same job, including the same hours, pay and holiday entitlement.

Here are some commonly asked questions we receive about contracts of employment and staff handbooks:

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No, an employer can’t refuse a request for paternity leave, provided they have given the correct amount of notice.

Employers must offer and pay statutory shared parental pay during Shared Parental leave (SPL). SPL can be taken flexibly by both parents within a year, and employees cannot be disadvantaged for taking it. It’s important for employers to have policies in place to support SPL and ensure compliance with the law.

Our employment solicitors have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to dealing with maternity and paternity issues. Our team can sensitively and expertly help with your queries and concerns during this time. Contact us for more information.

As their employer, an employee will look to you to ensure their maternity or paternity rights are safe when they take leave. We can help. Contact us: