Pregnancy and Maternity
If you are female, you are protected from any form of discrimination in relation to pregnancy or childbirth as soon as you are employed. If you are pregnant, you are entitled to:
- Paid time off for ante-natal care.
- Statutory maternity leave is for 52 weeks: 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity leave (OML) from day one of starting a job and 26 weeks’ additional maternity leave (AML).
- Statutory maternity pay for 39 weeks, provided you have worked for your employer for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is due, or Maternity Allowance if you do not qualify for SMP; AML is unpaid.
- Continuation of the contract of employment except for pay. However during AML, some terms of the contract don’t necessarily apply.
- Right to return to the same employment after OML, if possible, or the same or similar employment after AML.
- Priority treatment in redundancy situations.
- Work in a safe environment (see under heading Your Safety at Work)
- Be offered the same training and promotion opportunities while pregnant, as other staff.
- Be allowed to keep the same duties and responsibilities while pregnant.
If you are a working father, you are entitled to one or two weeks’ paternity leave when you and your partner have a child. You can’t take odd days off, and if you take two weeks they must be taken together.You can also qualify for paternity leave when you adopt a child. Most fathers will be entitled to statutory paternity pay for their paternity leave. Statutory paternity pay is paid at the same rate as statutory maternity pay. From 2011 working fathers can also be entitled to Additional Paternity Leave. You may be entitled to take up to 26 weeks paid leave to care for your new baby. For Additional Paternity leave and pay to be taken the child’s mother must have started working again. Additional Statutory Paternity Pay is only payable during the period of the 39 week Maternity Allowance, Statutory Maternity or Statutory Adoption Pay period.
Male and female employees have the right to request flexible working hours. You are also entitled to 18 weeks unpaid parental leave until the child’s 5th birthday, or, if the child is disabled, 18 weeks unpaid leave until the child’s 18th birthday. You can also qualify for paternity leave when you adopt a child.
Time off for dependants (compassionate leave)
‘Compassionate leave’ describes time off work to deal with personal circumstances. There is a statutory right called ‘time off for dependants’ which gives you the right to unpaid time off in some circumstances.