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Working parents and maternity rights

Published 07 October 2015

Celebrating the birth of a new arrival should be a time of great joy, but it can also trigger uncertainty in the workplace.

Employers have been known to life extremely difficult for working mothers, who do have a number of rights that include:

  • Not to be dismissed from your job simply because you’re pregnant
  • Being given alternative work if your existing role is not suitable for a pregnant woman – or else being suspended on full pay
  • Time off for ante-natal appointments
  • Maternity leave
  • Maternity pay
  • Being able to return to the same job with the same terms and conditions as before – or if that’s not appropriate, being offered appropriate alternative role on similar terms.

Anyone who is employed by an organisation is entitled to one-year of maternity leave.sand

This is made up of 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks of additional maternity leave, although many employers have their own maternity leave scheme which can be more generous than the statutory arrangement. Anyone who has adopted a child has the same maternity rights.

Shared parental leave was introduced in April this year. This allows new mums to end their maternity leave early in order to share leave and pay with their partner.

Earlier this week the government announced plans to also allow grandparents to take shared parental leave. It aims to introduce the policy by 2018.

Any expectant mother wishing to take maternity leave is required to provide an employer with 15 weeks’ notice before the beginning of the week they are due to give birth.

It is often the case that some new mums wish to spend more than the first year of their baby’s life at home with them, and in such circumstances they have a right to an additional 13 weeks unpaid parental leave.

After a long period out of the workplace the prospect of returning to work and trying to establish the right work and life balance can be daunting.

For help with this employees can apply for flexible working, which can include working from home, part-time hours and choosing when to start and finish work.

Employers must consider all such requests in a reasonable manner, but can reject an application if there is a sound business reason for doing so.

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For employment law advice or if you are affected or want information and support by any of the issues in this article please give us a call. 

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