Working parents have a number of rights and entitlements under UK employment law.
Maternity Leave And Pay
All pregnant employees are entitled to reasonable time off for antenatal care. From the first day of employment there is an entitlement to 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks additional maternity leave.
Paternity Leave And Pay
Employees must have or expect to have responsibility for the child’s upbringing, be the biological father of the child or the mother’s husband or partner, and have worked continuously for their employer for 26 weeks leading into the 15th week before the baby is due to qualify for paternity leave.
Shared Parental Leave And Pay
Qualifying new parents have had the opportunity to share the balance of the mother’s 52 weeks of statutory leave and 39 weeks of statutory pay as shared parental leave and shared parental pay, after the mother opts to end her maternity leave and pay early.
Unpaid Parental Leave
Working parents with one year’s service with their employer are entitled to unpaid parental leave to care for a child. The right applies to parents and to a person who has obtained formal parental responsibility.
Time Off For Family And Dependants
All employees have the right to take a reasonable period of time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, and not to be dismissed or victimised for doing so. The right enables employees to deal with an unexpected or sudden problem and make any necessary longer-term arrangements.
Parental Bereavement Leave
There is a statutory right to a minimum of two weeks parental bereavement leave for employees in the event of their child’s death. The right applies to employees regardless of how long they have worked for their employer. It applies after the death (or stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy) of a child under 18 years old.
The bereaved parent need only give minimal notice and does not have to provide evidence of entitlement, and has the choice to take the leave consecutively or non-consecutively, with up to 56 weeks from the bereavement when they can take the leave. There is protection from detriment while on leave and after. An employer cannot treat an employee less favourably as a consequence of taking the leave.
Bereaved parents who have been continuously employed for 26 weeks or more and earn over the NI lower earnings limit can receive statutory parental bereavement pay for a maximum period of two weeks.
Unpaid Time Off To Accompany Partner To Ante-natal Appointments
Fathers and partners have the right to take unpaid time off work to accompany expectant mothers to up to two ante-natal appointments.
The father of a baby or the partner (including same sex) of a pregnant woman is entitled to take unpaid time off work to accompany the woman to up to two of her ante-natal appointments. The time off is capped at six and a half hours for each appointment.
An employer is entitled to ask the employee for a declaration stating the date and time of the appointment, that the employee qualifies for the unpaid time off through his or her relationship with the mother or child, and that the time off is for the purpose of attending an antenatal appointment with the expectant mother that has been made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, nurse or midwife.
Adoption Leave And Pay
An employee who adopts a child has similar rights to a mother who gives birth to a child.
Adoption leave and pay will be available to individuals who adopt and one member of a couple where a couple adopt jointly (the couple may choose which partner takes adoption leave).
To qualify for adoption leave, an employee must be newly matched with a child for adoption by an approved adoption agency, and to be eligible for statutory adoption pay they have worked continuously for their employer for 26 weeks leading into the week in which they are notified of being matched with a child for adoption.
Adopters will be entitled to up to 26 weeks’ ordinary adoption leave followed immediately by up to 26 weeks’ additional adoption leave – a total of up to 52 weeks’ leave. Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) can be paid for up 39 weeks. The rate of SAP is 90% of average weekly wages for the first 6 weeks and then the statutory rate for the remaining 33 weeks (unless 90% is less than the statutory rate in which case the adopter receives that amount instead).
Adopters have a right to a certain amount of time off work for adoption appointments before a child is placed with them for adoption.
Bishopsgate Law employment lawyers provide independent legal advice about employment settlement agreements, and represent employees and employers at Employment Tribunals.