Maternity and Paternity Leave
Generally, a person’s employment status determines the nature and extent of their rights. It is not the purpose of this short Article to deal with this aspect but please note that only employees are entitled to maternity and paternity leave.
A pregnant employee is entitled to 52 weeks statutory maternity leave (“SML”). It does not matter how long she has been employed, how many hours she works or how much she gets paid.
SML is made up of ordinary maternity leave (the first 26 weeks) (“OML”) and additional maternity leave (the last 26 weeks) (“AML”). A pregnant employee does not have to take 52 weeks but she must take two weeks’ leave after the baby is born (or four weeks if she works in a factory).
A pregnant employee must tell her employer by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth:
- That she is pregnant.
- The expected week of childbirth.
- The date when she wants to start her maternity leave. (Usually the earliest date an employee can start her maternity leave is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth).
The employer must then write to the employee within 28 days setting out the start and end date of her maternity leave. The employee must give a required amount of notice if she wishes to change her return date. If the employee has taken OML she has the right to return to her original job; or if she has taken AML the right to return to her original job or, if that is not reasonably practical, a suitable alternative.
Similar rules apply to adoptions.
Employees may be entitled to paternity leave if their partner is having a baby, adopting a child or having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement.
Paternity leave is one or two weeks.
To qualify for Paternity Leave the employee must:
- have worked for the employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.
- give the employer notice that they wish to take Paternity Leave no later than the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth, whether they are going to take one or two weeks, and when they expect their paternity leave to start.
Paternity leave must be taken in one go, cannot start before the birth and must end within 56 days of the birth.
Shared Parental Leave
Employees may be able to take some of their leave as shared parental leave.
This article is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide specific legal advice. It should not be relied upon in the absence of specific advice given in relation to particular circumstances. © Bowcock Cuerden LLP 2016