There are legal guidelines that must be followed when a parent has a child. Should your employer choose to ignore these, then an employee can bring a claim for discrimination.
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A pregnant employee has the right to 52 weeks maternity leave. This is 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave as well as 26 weeks of additional maternity leave. 39 weeks could be paid; statutory or the amount under the contract of employment.
Pregnant women should note that they are only entitled to maternity leave if they inform their employer of the pregnancy by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth of certain information. All pregnant employees are entitled to reasonable time off with pay for antenatal care advised by GP such as relaxation classes and parent-craft classes. This includes midwife and Hospital appointments.
Statutory Maternity Pay is only available to eligible employees. They must have been employed for at least 26 weeks and average weekly earnings at least equal to the lower earnings limit for NI contributions.
There are currently reforms going through the Government (Feb 2014), a new system of flexible parental leave, and the parents can choose how they share care of their child during the first year after birth.
If you are a father to be who will, you may have the right to Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay. It is available for employees who have responsibility for the child’s upbringing, biological father of the child, worked for the employer for at least 26 weeks and provide the correct notice.
The employee should inform their employer as soon as possible including details of when the baby is due and whether they are taking 1 or 2 weeks off. The father may be entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay which is £136.78 (April 2013) per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, if that is less.
Parental leave is another topic that employees are not totally aware of. 18 weeks of unpaid leave can be taken up to each child’s 5th birthday (no more than 4 weeks a year). The leave can be taken immediately after the birth or after a period of maternity leave. The employee must have completed one year’s service to qualify and the request must be given at least 21 days before the intended start date.
As an adopting parent you do have legal rights in the workplace. Eligible employees can take up to 52 weeks adoption leave. This is formulated as 26 weeks Ordinary Adoption Leave and 26 weeks Additional Adoption Leave. Only one member of a couple can take adoption leave.
An eligible employee is one who has worked continuously for their employer for 26 weeks ending with the week in which they are notified of being matched with a child for adoption.
During the period of adoption leave, up to 10 ‘keep in touch’ days can be worked. Furthermore, as an employee you may be entitled to 39 weeks of statutory adoption pay. This is £136.78 per week (2013).
Unfortunately, time off for dependents is unpaid unless an employer is willing to give paid time off under the contract of employment. It is based on a reasonable amount of time off (usually a day or two) but this is subjective.
The right to time off is intended to deal with unforeseen matters and emergencies. The matter must involve a dependent such as a spouse, partner or child.