During your pregnancy, you have the right to be protected from certain occupational risks that impact your health, or that of your baby, adversely. Rest areas must also be provided. In addition, pregnant mums are entitled to paid time off to attend ante-natal appointments; dads-to-be have no legal right. They can make arrangements with their employer to accommodate these. A final right is protection from unfair treatment or dismissal because of your pregnancy.
As an employed mother-to-be, you are entitled to 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity leave. An extra 26 weeks’ additional maternity leave is also available. To be eligible you must give notice to your employer, before the end of your 15th week, of your due date and desired leave start date. You can start your leave any time within 11 weeks of due date. You must take at least two weeks after your baby is born, or four weeks if you work in a factory. Apart from this time, it is a good idea to maintain contact during your absence for various reasons. You can also work for up to 10 days during your maternity leave on a mutually-agreed basis.
During your leave, you’ll be entitled to pay. At minimum, employees with at least 26 weeks’ service earning more than £107 per week will be able to claim Statutory Maternity Pay. For the first 6 weeks this is 90% of your average gross weekly earnings. For the remaining 33 weeks, you will get the lower of this or £135.45. Maternity Allowance is available if you’ve changed jobs during pregnancy, are self-employed or have been unemployed during pregnancy. Maternity Allowance provides you with the same pay over the same time period as your employer would have given you in SMP.
Another right is that of returning to work, after your maternity leave. Free prescriptions and free dental treatment are also available to you until your baby’s first birthday. Child benefit is available until your child is 19. You may also be eligible for tax credits.
Fathers also enjoy paternity rights in the United Kingdom. These consist of two weeks’ paternity leave, and additional paternity leave, lasting up to 26 weeks. Ordinary Paternity Leave (OPL) is two weeks paid leave immediately after birth if they meet certain criteria.
Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay is paid at the lower of £135.45 per week, or 90% of average weekly earnings, for dads who earned over £107 per week before tax. Otherwise, income support may be available. Additional paternity leave granted also attracts pay at the same rates.
All parents have the right to apply to work flexibly until their children are 17. Employers must consider any request for this. Also, once you have completed one year’s service with your employer, you are entitled to 17 weeks’ unpaid parental leave to care for your child.