Private Client

Maternity & Paternity Rights and Parental Leave

To qualify for maternity leave you must be an employee, not a worker and not self-employed.

You must also tell your employer before the end of the 15th week before the baby is due that you are:-

  • Pregnant, and
  • the expected week of child birth, and 
  • the date you intend to start your maternity leave

Maternity leave breaks down into two sections, Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML) and Additional Maternity Leave (AML).

OML is taken for the first 26 weeks, followed straight away, if you opt to take it, by 26 weeks AML.

If you return to work at the end of your OML, you are entitled to return to your original job.  If you return to work during or after AML, your employer is not required to keep the same job open for you, but is allowed to offer you different but similar employment.

Once you have advised your employer that you are pregnant; when you expect your child and the date you intend to start your maternity leave, within 28 days your employer must confirm to you your anticipated return date.  You can change that return date upon give the employer 8 weeks’ notice.

In order to qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) you must have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks ending in the 15th week before your baby is due and earn at least £102 per week.  You are entitled to SMP for 39 weeks.  The first 6 weeks are paid at 90% of your normal pay.  The remaining 33 weeks are paid at the rate of £128.73 per week or 90% of your earnings, whichever is the lower.  These are current figures and are reviewed annually.

During your maternity leave you can return to work for up to 10 days, which are known as “Keep in Touch” (KIT) days.  As long as you do not work for more than 10 days you remain entitled to SMP.  However, if you return to work for more than 10 days you will lose your entitlement to SMP.

Paternity Leave

To qualify for paternity leave you must have been employed for 26 weeks before the end of the week 15 weeks before the baby is due or at the end of the week you were notified that you have been matched with your child.  You must be the mother’s husband or partner or be the adoptive father or the husband or partner of an adopter.

You have the right to either one or two weeks ordinary paternity leave (OPL).  You cannot take this time in odd days and you cannot take the two weeks at separate times.  You must either take one week or two weeks consecutively.

You are entitled to statutory paternity pay (SPP) for the paternity leave weeks you take at the rate of £128.73 per week or 90% of your normal pay, whichever is the lower.

In order to qualify for OPL you must tell your employer when the baby is due; tell your employer whether you intend to take one or two weeks paternity leave and when you wish to start your paternity leave.

Fathers are now entitled to additional paternity leave (APL), for up to 26 weeks, if their partner has returned to work. APL can be taken between 20 weeks and one year after their child is born. Additional parternity pay (APP) is paid at the rate of £128.73 per week, or 90% of earnings whichever is lower. The childs mother must have been entitled to one or more of the following:- Statutory Maternity Leave, Statutory Maternity Pay, Maternity Allowance or Statutory Adoption Leave or Pay.

Fathers can take unpaid APL if they meet the criteria for leave but not pay.

Parental Leave

Both parents are entitled to take parental leave.

You are entitled to take this leave at any time whilst your child is under 5 years of age or under 18 years of age if your child is disabled.  You must be named on the child’s birth certificate or adoption certificate and have parental responsibility.

Each parent is entitled to 13 weeks’ paternity leave, and this leave cannot be transferred between them.  For instance, one parent cannot take 20 weeks and the other 6 weeks.  The leave can be taken any time up to the child’s 5th birthday or 18th birthday if the child is disabled.

Parental leave is unpaid.

Flexible Working

Parents or those with dependants are entitled to request flexible working upon their return from maternity or paternity leave.  Details of flexible working rights are provided in our article “Flexible Working Arrangements”.

If you have any queries regarding Maternity or Paternity rights, or Parental leave, please contact our employment law solicitor Marina Vincent on 020 8422 5678.