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Maternity and Paternity Leave - Your Employee's Rights

When some of the best news is delivered to your employees that they are expecting, are you sure of their rights and your responsibilities? L.U.E offers on-demand legal support to businesses that need guidance and resources to point them in the right direction. Here's how the L.U.E App can help.

Navigating the framework for employee maternity and paternity leave can be confusing at the best of times when running a business, you are more than likely to be juggling multiple tasks to keep everything running smoothly. Here, we've included some key highlights to consider when an employee requests leave for these reasons.

Maternity Leave

The Employment Rights Act 1996 provides for statutory maternity rights regarding an employee's pregnancy and maternity. The Work and Families Act 2006 and Maternity and Parental Leave etc and the Paternity and Adoption Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/2014) provide for 52 weeks' statutory maternity leave amongst other changes.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/3242) protect pregnant employees, as well as new mothers and those that are breastfeeding in respect of health and safety. The Equality Act 2010 provides protection from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and maternity in the workplace.

The legal frameworks highlighted above are key instruments for employee maternity rights, but they continue to evolve with various proposals for minor changes every few years.

The key rights for employees include:

  • time off for antenatal appointments

  • health and safety protection while pregnant and breastfeeding

  • up to 52 weeks' maternity leave (regardless of the length of service)

  • statutory maternity pay for up to 39 weeks

  • the right to return to the same job

  • priority for alternative employment in redundancy cases

  • the right to request flexible working conditions on return

  • protection from dismissal, detriment or discrimination due to pregnancy or maternity

Paternity Leave

The right to take paternity leave has been around since the 6th of April 2003 for eligible employees to take time off work to be at home during the early days of a newborn child. The Employment Act 2002 provided this right via virtue of introducing sections 80A to 80E into the Employment Rights Act 1996. This followed the new regulations by the Secretary of State at the time, known as the Patternity and Adoption Leave Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/2788)

These regulations were later amended in 2014 by the Paternity and Adoption Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/2112) and Paternity and Adoption Leave (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/3206).

To be eligible for paternity leave you must be an employee and:

  • have sufficient length of service with your employer

  • have one of the specified relationships (biological father, spouse, civil partner, or partner)

  • have a sufficient degree of responsibility for the child's upbringing

  • not have taken shared parental leave in respect of the same child

  • given the required notice to your employer

The entitlement of paternity leave is to up to two weeks' leave either in one week instalments or consecutively, this can be taken from the date of birth and up to 56 days after that date. It is the employees choice of when to time this leave within the specified period.

The employee will need to provide notice and, possibly, evidence. This would include details of:

  • the EWC (per regulation 6(1)(a) of the PAL Regulations)

  • the length of paternity leave to be taken

  • the date they want paternity leave to start

This information should be made available to the employer no less than the 15th week prior to the EWC, or as soon as reasonably possible.

How can L.U.E help?

The L.U.E app provides employers with an on-demand legal checker to provide affordable access to legal guidance, helping to secure certainty in your response and significant time-saving in getting the information you need on everyday legal problems.

Download today!

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