Who is entitled to take Maternity leave?
Most women employees are entitled to take time off work to have a baby. This time off is called maternity leave. It is your right to take maternity leave no matter how long you have worked for your employer, how many hours a week you work or how much you are paid.
You can start your maternity leave any day from 11 weeks before your due date but if your baby comes early or you are off work due to illness related to your pregnancy in the 4 weeks before your due date, your maternity leave can start earlier.
Maternity leave usually lasts for a year unless you inform your employer you wish to return earlier. The shortest maternity leave you can take is 2 weeks which increases to 4 weeks if you work in a factory. Maternity leave cannot last for more than a year.
You may also be entitled to Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance.
You aren’t entitled to maternity leave if you’re a ‘worker’. You’re usually a worker if you:
- Work for an agency – unless you have an agreement saying you’re employed by the agency
- Are a casual worker
- Are on a zero-hours contract
Who is entitled to take Paternity leave?
If you are a baby’s father or the mother’s partner you are entitled to 1 or 2 weeks of paternity leave when you and your partner have a baby. You can also take paternity leave when you adopt a child.
To qualify for paternity leave, you need to:
- Have had the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date, or by the time you’re matched with a child for adoption
- Be the biological father of the child, or be the partner of the baby’s mother – you don’t have to be married
- Be responsible for the child’s upbringing and wish to take time off to care for the child or support the mother
- Have given your employer the correct notice to take paternity leave
There are 2 extra rules if you’re adopting a child:
- You can’t already know the child – for example they can’t be your stepchild
- You can’t be taking adoption leave – if you and your partner are adopting, one of you can take adoption leave and the other paternity leave
You may also be entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay if you earn at least an average of £118 per week and keep working for the same employer up to the date of birth. Statutory Paternity Pay is paid at the same rate as Statutory Maternity Pay.
Who is entitled to shared Parental Leave and pay?
If you or your partner are expecting a baby (or having a child placed with you for adoption), you might be able to turn the maternity (or adoption) leave and pay into shared parental leave and pay.
You can share up to 50 weeks’ leave and up to 37 weeks’ pay. You have a choice of either:
sharing your leave and pay between you
one of you taking all the shared parental leave and pay
There are certain criteria for entitlement to shared Parental leave and pay and you can find these by clicking the links below:
Time off for looking after your child
If you have worked for your employer for 1 year you have the right to unpaid time off work to look after your children.
You can take up to 18 weeks’ unpaid leave before your child is 18.
You can also take unpaid time off work to deal with unexpected problems – for example where childminding arrangements break down.
You can find more information on Parental Rights At Work by clicking on the links below:
You can also come and talk to the Advice Service in confidence. We are impartial and here to advise in your best interests. We have a drop in service between 12pm and 2pm, Monday to Friday in the Student Support Centre. Alternatively you can email us on: firstname.lastname@example.org