As an employer, it’s important that you’re aware of your staff’s rights when it comes to maternity and paternity leave to protect the health of expectant and new parents.

Maternity Leave and Pay

Eligible employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks’ leave from work. The employee must tell you about the pregnancy at least 15 weeks before the due date. They can also have reasonable paid time off to attend antenatal appointments. A doctors’ note can be requested for all except the very first appointment.

Your employee can choose not to take the full 52 weeks; however, they must take off the 2 weeks following the birth of their child (4 weeks for factory workers). It is illegal to allow an employee to return to work any earlier than this. This also applies to workers that are:

Statutory Maternity Pay, or SMP, is only paid for the first 39 weeks of maternity leave. The rate is currently 90% of your employees’ weekly earnings before tax for the first 6 weeks, and then £172.48 a week (or the 90% as stated before if lower) for the remaining 33 weeks. The company is under no obligation to pay the employee for the remaining 13 weeks, should they choose to take them.

Return to work for new parents

Your employee is entitled to resume their role if they return within 6 months of starting their leave. However, if they return any later and circumstances have changed, they must be given another role of equal status.

Paternity Leave and Pay

When their partner is expecting a child, your employee is entitled to 1 or 2 weeks leave which must all be taken in one go. It cannot be taken before the birth and it must end within 56 days of the birth (or the due date if the baby is born early).

Your employee doesn’t have to provide an exact start date for their paternity leave; however, they’re expected to provide a general time such as the day of birth. This rule is different when it comes to adoption.

To receive paternity leave, your employee must:

– Have or expect to have responsibility in raising the child as an intended parent (i.e. surrogacy)

– Be the biological father, the adoptive parent or the husband or partner of the mother

– Have worked continuously for the company for at least 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the baby is due

Fathers are also entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay which is 90% of their weekly earnings, or £172.48 (whichever is lower), and it should be paid whilst they are on leave.

How we can help you manage maternity and paternity leave and pay

There’s so much more to maternity and paternity rights and policies as well as health and safety concerns for new and expectant mothers in the workplace that you need to be aware of and take action towards.

Our HR consultants are experienced in these areas so they can help you with any query or concern that you may be facing. Our service includes:

If you want to discuss any of the above with a HR professional and Employment Law expert, then give us a call on 0845 2626 260