Category: Legal Rights for Maternity Leave

All Your Parents’ Rights in One Article

All Your Parents’ Rights in One Article

Parents have a myriad of rights to leave to care for their children. It can get very confusing, and won’t get any clearer when the rather complex Shared Parental Leave comes into force. This article sets out the different types of leave, who qualifies and what rights there are to pay during leave.

Maternity Leave

You can take up to 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave (OML) and a further 26 weeks additional maternity leave (AML), regardless of how long you have worked for your employer. In order to qualify, you must tell your employer the date when you wish to start your leave before the end of the 15th week before you’re due to give birth. The first 2 weeks after birth are compulsory maternity leave, when you are not permitted to work.

Qualifying employees are entitled to a maximum of 39 weeks statutory maternity pay (SMP). For the first six weeks you are paid at 90% of your salary, the remaining 33 weeks are paid at the lower of either the standard rate of £136.78, or 90% of your average gross weekly earnings. The statutory rate will rise to £138.18 on 6 April 2014. Check your company maternity policy because some employers offer enhanced maternity pay.

Terms and conditions of your employment continue during your maternity leave, except in respect of pay. You should continue to receive your non-cash contractual benefits such as medical insurance or a company car if this is for personal as well as business use. You are also entitled to any pay rises given during your leave, though this will take effect on your return unless within the first 6 weeks when maternity pay is determined by a percentage of your salary.

Holidays accrue during maternity leave and can be taken before or after your leave but not during.

You have the right to return to the same job after OML. After AML, your employer can offer a suitable and appropriate alternative if it is not practical for you to return to the same job.

Read more articles on Rights to Maternity Leave.

Paternity Leave

Dads, or mum’s partner, are entitled to 2 weeks’ Ordinary Paternity Leave (OPL) paid at £136.78, rising to £138.18 on 6 April 2014. Many employers offer this at full pay. Although most men choose to take the leave as the baby is born, it can be taken at any time within 56 days of the birth. To qualify, dad must have had at least 26 weeks’ service 14 weeks before the due date.

If dad qualifies for OPL he is also entitled to APL, if mum goes back to work. APL cannot be taken until baby is 20 weeks old and no later than baby’s first birthday. Dad must be working for the same employer as he was when he took OPL. He is entitled to the unexpired portion of mum’s SMP, paid at the same rate.

Parental Leave

All parents are entitled to take up to 18 weeks unpaid parental leave before their child is 5. The leave accrues in respect of each child, so a parent of 3 children could take up to 54

weeks. Leave must be taken in blocks of a week and can be limited to 4 weeks per year. Employers can postpone the leave for up to 6 months where the business would be unduly disrupted.

To take the leave, employees must have been with their employer for at least a year. Leave can move between employers, so for example if you had taken 3 weeks leave and got a new job, you could take up to 15 weeks in that new job once you had been there for a year.

Dependants Leave

All employees are entitled to a reasonable amount of unpaid leave to deal with dependants who are ill or injured. The leave is also available because of unexpected disruption of childcare or to deal with an incident at school.

Shared Parental Leave

There has been much publicity around Shared Parental Leave, due to apply to parents of children born after April 2015. Parents will be able to share 50 weeks’ leave after the 2 week compulsory maternity leave. They can take leave in consecutive blocks or at the same time. They can even ask their employer for non-continuous leave, though employers will have the right to refuse this. Maternity and Paternity pay will remain at current levels.

To qualify, employees must have 26 weeks’ service 14 weeks before the baby’s due date. Both parents must meet the “economic activity test”, which is to say they must have worked for at least 26 of the 66 weeks before the baby is born, and have earned at least £30 per week for at least 13 of those weeks.

Flexible working

Parents and carers have the right to request flexible working, such as working part time hours, changing the hours they work or working from home. An employer can only refuse a request for a sound business reason. If the employer refuses to consider the request or refuses it based on incorrect facts, the employee can complain to the Employment Tribunal. Read more articles on: Flexible Working Request, Negotiating Flexible Work and Finding Flexible Work.

black new logoAuthor: Louise Taft (Prolegal). Prolegal provides prestigious expertise without the elevated costs expected in this area. We employ the people, the resources and the technology needed to deliver you the highest quality of service in employment law.

Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy Discrimination

Campaigning organisation Maternity Action estimate that 60000 women lose their jobs because of pregnancy or maternity discrimination every year. This is despite the Equality Act 2010, which protects you from unfavourable treatment because of pregnancy, pregnancy related illness or maternity leave.

Pregnant woman at work with laptop looking stressedIn my experience, the most common problems arise from pregnancy related absences and around returning to work. I’ve advised women whose employers object to the number or timing of her ante natal appointments. There is a right to paid leave: you should not be asked to make up the time or to rearrange appointments outside office hours. Employers should not apply absence policies to women with pregnancy related illnesses except to the extent that this is to assist her (such as a referral to Occupational Health to consider whether any adjustments might enable her to return to work). Nevertheless, I have advised many women disciplined or even dismissed because they have taken time off with pregnancy related illness.

Having said that, outright pregnancy discrimination is still common: women tell me that their employers’ attitudes towards them have changed once they announce their pregnancy, with an assumption that she is no longer committed to her work, won’t return after her maternity leave or will only want to work part time. Employers raise performance concerns out of the blue or suddenly announce the role is redundant. One was even told that she would be replaced if she took her full entitlement to maternity leave. When one client complained about something her manager had said to her, he denied it, saying that her memory was bound to be affected by her pregnancy.

Returning to work is one of the most common times when women experience problems. Some women find their position has been filled and their services are no longer needed; their employer claims they are redundant. Your maternity leave must not play a part in any decision that your role is redundant. Any selection process should not take account of absences for maternity, ante natal appointments or pregnancy related illness. If you have been replaced during your maternity leave, your role is not redundant and it is unlawful to dismiss you. If your role is genuinely redundant, you have priority for any suitable alternative vacancies.

I would advise any woman experiencing discrimination to get something in writing as soon as possible: send an email setting out the problem, whether that be asserting your right to time off for an appointment or complaining about a comment about your pregnancy. If your employer has a HR department, get in touch with them as well as speaking to your line manager, or manager’s manager if they are the problem. If that doesn’t work, raise a formal grievance.

If things aren’t resolved internally, get legal advice as soon as possible. It’s important to remember there are short 3 month time limits to bring Employment Tribunal claims for discrimination. Whilst you may well have a lot on your plate preparing for a new baby, you might lose your right to claim if you wait.

black new logoAuthor: Louise Taft (Prolegal). Prolegal provides prestigious expertise without the elevated costs expected in this area. We employ the people, the resources and the technology needed to deliver you the highest quality of service in employment law.


Maternity Rights Survey - Key learnings

Maternity Rights Survey – Key learnings

Every few years the Government has commissioned an independent large-scale survey of mothers to tell them about the impact of changes to employment law and to better understand mothers’ experiences and their decisions around maternity leave and returning to work. Here we summarise the key learning points from the most recent survey which was carried out in 2009/10 by NatCen Social Research.

1. Know your rights

The regulations change from time to time so speaking to your mate who had a baby a few years back, or even thinking about how things were when you had your first baby, might not give you accurate information about what you and your partner are entitled to now.

For example, in the two most recent surveys, we learnt that not all employed mothers know what their legal entitlement to maternity leave is. Only just over two-thirds of mothers were aware that they were entitled to a full year of maternity leave, and a fifth thought they were only entitled to take the paid part of the leave. Even more worryingly, only just over half of mothers thought that their employer allowed them to take the full year they were actually legally entitled to.

Being aware of the rights and procedures are of course especially important for the self-employed, who do not benefit from an HR department that can help work things out. We found that 10% of mother who received no maternity pay said it was because they did not know about maternity benefits, and two-fifths of these were actually entitled to receive Maternity Allowance.

So make sure you know your leave and pay rights by checking the rules or read articles on Mum&Career for practical ways of interpreting the rules.

2. Educate your employer if necessaryTMitchell_130407_2082

Unfortunately, you can’t always rely on your employer to know the ins and outs of maternity rights either, so you might have to educate your manager once you’ve educated yourself.

Overall, the vast majority of mothers who took part in the last two maternity rights surveys experienced no unfair treatment by their employer while pregnant and experienced no difficulties with their employer in relation to their maternity leave decisions. However, 16% of mothers did report that their employer’s lack knowledge about maternity leave entitlement and benefits caused them some difficulty, 4% reported being given unsuitable tasks or workloads during the pregnancy and 3% said they had been discouraged from attending antenatal classes during work time.

Few mothers reported serious unfair treatment as a result of their pregnancy:

  • 5% had experienced unpleasant comments from colleagues or their employer
  • 3% said they had been denied training opportunities
  • 3% had failed to gain a promotion
  • 2% felt they had been bullied by their line manager
  • 1% had a reduction in pay and
  • 1% had a smaller pay rise or bonus than their peers.

But just because something is rare doesn’t mean it can’t happen and such treatment is obviously very upsetting if it happens to you. Knowing the rules and who you can turn to for support can help you confidently stand up for your rights. If speaking to your manager and your HR department doesn’t work, Working FamiliesACAS and Maternity Action have (free) helplines you can turn to.

3. The big decisionTMitchell_130407_2035

The decision to return to work after maternity leave is very personal and depends on so many different factors – your job and salary, your partner’s job and salary, available childcare arrangements, how much informal support like grand-parents nearby you can draw on, and ultimately how you feel about combining work and motherhood.

The decision to return to work can be very emotional and guilt-ridden. If it feels like everyone else around is taking a career break to be a full-time stay-at-home mother, it might console you to know that 77% of mothers do return to work by the time their child is aged 12-18 months old.

And if you know you want to return to your job after maternity leave, or you have to return for financial reasons, using some KIT days can be a nice way to foster your relationship with your workplace while on leave. The use of KIT days was significantly associated with subsequent return to work among our survey mothers: 95% of mothers who had done some work or training during maternity leave subsequently returned to the same job, compared with 78% who did no work or training during their leave. Read more about KIT days and preparing for your return.

Author:  Jenny Chanfreau, Senior Researcher at NatCen Social Research,

Maternity Leave - the facts in pictures

Maternity Leave – the facts in pictures

Beautiful infograpic showing you all you need to know on Maternity Leave Rights:

Find it here. Made by Quality Solicitors



Maternity Leave Rights - The Basics

Maternity Leave Rights – The Basics

Most organisations will offer good support from HR and in their employee handbook. Make sure you are prepared and understand what your rights and obligations are before you speak with your manager. Also find out what the rights and obligations of your company are.

Some of the best places to find information on maternity rights and obligations are:



Resignation After Maternity Leave - How to do it well

Resignation After Maternity Leave – How to do it well

Decided not to return to work after your maternity leave? If so, your resignation after maternity leave needs to be handled sensitively and diplomatically. Let me share with you the key mindset you need and top tips that will help you handle it well.

If you decide not to return to your previous job after your maternity leave and decide to resign it is best to handle the situation carefully to make sure that you maintain a positive relationship with your employer.

No matter how certain you feel that your decision to not return to work after maternity leave is the right answer for you or your family or how liberated you feel leaving your employer, you never know what might happen in the future. After spending some time at home you may decide that you really miss your job and the intellectual stimulation and financial independence it provided you. You may find that your family situation changes and financial pressures are such that you can no longer afford to stay at home and you need to return to work.

Even if you never return to your old employer, you may find that your line manager moves on to head up a team at a new organisation. When you are back in the job market looking for work in a few years time your paths may cross again. You never know what the future will hold so don’t burn any bridges.

When dealing with your resignation after maternity leave, work on the basis that you want to maintain a positive working relationship with your employer and keep a professional stance at all times.

Top Tips for Handling Your Resignation After Maternity Leave

Meet with your line manager to discuss all of the options for your returning to work after maternity leave

  • Carefully consider the options presented to you and make sure you are certain that none of these options provide a viable solution that would allow you to return to work and achieve the work/life balance that you want.
  • If you decide that resigning from your job really is the most appropriate way forward for you, arrange to meet your boss face to face to discuss your decision with them.
  • Be as honest as you can with them and stress how difficult a decision it has been for you.
  • Explain that you have made the decision based on the way you want your family life to shape up rather than any negative feelings towards the organisation.
  • Stress how much you are going to miss working with your employer and the intellectual stimulation that the role provided for you.
  • After the meeting follow up with a formal letter of resignation and a telephone call to make sure that your line manager has received your resignation letter.

Resignation After Maternity Leave: Your Resignation Letter

Your resignation letter doesn’t need to be a long, detailed document. If you have met with your line manager and discussed your reasons for your resignation after maternity leave then you just need to put together a simple, concise, professional document to formally record your decision not to return to work.

Some suggested wording is below to give you a starter for your own resignation letter. It is important that you personalise your letter to your specific situation and where possible refer to the conversation that you had with your line manager about your reasons for your resignation after maternity leave.
Dear (line managers name)

After much thought and consideration, I have decided not to return to work after my maternity leave.

This is a bitter sweet decision as I have always enjoyed working with you and the team but my new family situation means I want to spend as much time as possible with my child.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for such a wonderful time working for you, and for the opportunities and experience I gained
Please accept this letter as formal notice of my resignation, effective from (insert date here)

I wish you and the team every continued success

Kind regards
After your resignation after maternity leave try and keep some kind of contact with your ex-employer. This doesn’t need to be a weekly event, in fact they will probably find it a bit odd if you are contacting them every week! But an email/a phone call/a coffee every six months or so will make sure they don’t forget who you are and will allow you to keep updated on what is happening in the organisation and help you spot any opportunities that may come up in the future.

One very effective way of keeping in touch with your old employer is to forward on news stories or email newsletters that you think may be of interest to them. Not only are you maintaining contact with your old employer but you are demonstrating that you are still keeping abreast of what is happening in your industry.

Keeping in touch with your old employer will keep you connected to what is happening in your profession and will also keep them in your network. If you do need to approach them for help when you do decide to return to work it won’t come as a complete bolt from the blue.

If you have indeed decided to resign, I know you will now have the tools to handle it well. Just forget about any current emotions, and make sure you handle it professionally. It’s for your own future.

Author: Nicola Semple is the owner of Life After Maternity Leave, a service dedicated to supporting new or ‘new again’ parents as they make decisions about their life ‘after maternity leave’. Whether that be returning to work after maternity leave, becoming a stay at home mum or doing something different and setting up their own business.

Help - I am being made redundant during maternity leave!

Help – I am being made redundant during maternity leave!

What should you do if you are told that you are at risk of being made redundant whilst you are on maternity leave? Can the situation in fact work to your advantage? In this article, Claire Taylor-Evans, Employment Solicitor, discusses your legal rights in respect of redundancy during maternity leave.

Can an employer select a woman who is on maternity leave for redundancy?

The fact that you are pregnant or on maternity leave does not prevent your employer from selecting you as a candidate for redundancy. However, your employer would be acting in a discriminatory manner and unfairly if they selected you purely for this reason, as this would be. Your employer should have a good business reason for the potential redundancy of your position, identify a fair pool for selection, apply objective selection criteria to this pool of employees and follow a fair process to avoid any claims of unfair dismissal or sex discrimination.

Will Statutory Maternity Payments continue if I am made redundant?

If you are made redundant your maternity leave will come to an end. If however, you have qualified for statutory maternity pay, you will continue to receive it for the remainder of the statutory maternity pay period even if you are made redundant. Often an employer may decide to pay this in one lump sum. You would also be entitled to work or be paid for your notice period. If your employer does not wish to do this, they may ask you to serve your notice period on “garden leave” which means that you will not be required to attend work but will still be paid.

Does my employer have to offer me suitable alternative employment?

Employees on maternity leave are in a more advantageous position than other employees if they are put at risk of redundancy during their maternity leave, as they have right of first refusal over any suitable alternative position in preference to any other employee who is similarly affected by the redundancy.

So what is a suitable alternative position?

  • The work must be both suitable and appropriate.
  • The capacity and place of employment, along with the other terms and conditions of the employment must be no less favourable than if the employee had continued to be employed in her old job.
  • The position must be available for the employee to start immediately after her existing contract ends.

If the role is suitable do I have to take it?

As your employer is obliged to offer you a suitable alternative job, you must bear in mind that if you are offered a job that is a suitable alternative and you unreasonably refuse to accept the offer, you will forfeit your right to a redundancy payment.

Actually, I really would like to be made redundant. Can I orchestrate this?

This is a question I am often asked. Many women decide that they do not wish to return to work after maternity leave or they are in two minds because of their financial situation.

Often they would quite like to be considered for a redundancy package, particularly if their employer is offering more than statutory redundancy (currently £430 per year of service). However, many employers will not raise this option with a woman on maternity leave as they are concerned about repercussions.

If you are told that you are at risk of redundancy, and are part of a redundancy pool, you could volunteer to be made redundant.

Your employer may state that they are not looking for any voluntary redundancies, although this is something they really should consider before making compulsory redundancies. Even if you do volunteer, they are not obliged to accept your offer as you may possess certain skills that other candidates in the pool do not have.

If you think that you may be at risk of being made redundant, or you have been told that you are being made redundant and you are either worried about this, or you would like further advice on this subject, please contact Claire Taylor- Evans.

Author: Claire Taylor-Evans, is an Associate at Boyes Turner LLP, dealing with all aspects of employment law. Claire regularly advises on maternity, sex discrimination and unfair dismissal. Claire performs advocacy at employment tribunals and is a regular speaker at seminars, conferences and events, for the CIPD and Business Forums. She has written on employment law for Personnel Today Online and the Financial Times. You can contact her on or 0118 9527284, Mob: 07792 908 604


Should you try and work during maternity leave?

Should you try and work during maternity leave?

Can you work during maternity leave? What happens if you do? And what are the pros and cons of working during maternity leave? Claire Taylor-Evans, an employment solicitor, discusses whether it is worth trying to work during maternity leave.

During your maternity leave, you may worry that you will be forgotten, that you will fall behind with important changes that may happen at your workplace, or that you may miss out on training opportunities.  Your employer, of course, is allowed to make reasonable contact with you during your maternity leave, for example to update you on any important changes in your workplace, or perhaps any opportunities for promotion or job vacancies.

Making reasonable contact is one thing, but should you pro-actively request to work during your maternity leave?

You are entitled to undertake up to ten days’ work for your employer whilst you are on maternity leave without losing your right to statutory maternity pay.  These days are known as “keeping in touch” days, or “KIT” days.

Pros of KIT days

KIT days can provide a number of advantages for both you and your employer:

  •  Training and development can continue during maternity leave – KIT days can be useful for activities such as undertaking a training course, a team event or an appraisal interview;
  • If you have been closely involved in a particular assignment or project, it may be helpful for you to attend during important parts or at the launch of the project;
  • Keeping in contact with your workplace in this way may help to ease any worries you have about returning to your job;
  • You are likely to feel more confident knowing that you are actively maintaining your professional profile and presence in your workplace;
  • Your employer can speak to you about any workplace issues and changes. 

Cons of KIT days

  •  You will have to consider childcare and any associated cost;
  • You may have to work for free – your employer is not obliged to pay you any extra over and above your SMP entitlement (see below);
  • If you are asked to work any KIT days and refuse, you may worry that your employer does not feel you are committed to your job;
  • Some employers feel that KIT days could end up as ‘catching-up-on-gossip days’, as employees may simply come in and chat for a few hours and not get much work done!

How do KIT days work?

If you work up to ten KIT days you will not forfeit your statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance, nor will your maternity leave end.

Whether you take advantage of these days is your choice and your employer does not have any right to insist that you work. Any days you do take should be agreed between you and your employer.

You can take KIT days as single days or in blocks of days.  Once you have used up your 10 KIT days, if you do any further work you will lose a week’s statutory maternity pay for the week in which you have done that work.  For example, if a week in your maternity pay period contains your last KIT day and you do a further day’s work in the same week, you will lose statutory maternity pay for that week.

Any work you do as a KIT day, even as little as half an hour, will be counted as a whole KIT day.  So, for example, you would not be able to work 20 half KIT days.

You cannot work during the “compulsory maternity leave period”, which are the two weeks immediately after your child is born.

KIT days cannot be used to extend your maternity leave period.

Payment for working during maternity leave

Your employer must pay you, as a minimum, the statutory maternity pay due for that week.  Any additional payment for the work you do on a KIT day will need to be agreed with your employer.  Most employers will pay your normal pay rate for the day.  It is also possible that you could negotiate to have time off in lieu.  There may be information on payment for KIT days in your contract, or in your employer’s maternity policy, so check these if you are unsure.  If there is nothing in writing, speak to your HR department.

Take advantage and do work during maternity leave

In our experience, we would highly recommend that mothers take full advantage of their KIT days’ entitlement.  Not only are they a brilliant way to keep in face to face contact with your employer, but they can also help to make your return to work easier and smoother.  It is possible that you may have lost some confidence after having a long period of leave.  By using KIT days to keep abreast of changes in your workplace and to ease your way back into work, you should feel happier and more confident in your return.

Author: Claire Taylor Evans. Claire is an employment lawyer for Boyes Turner.  If you are concerned about how your employer manages KIT days, or you have further queries, please contact Claire Taylor- Evans at or 0118 9527284.