With an increasing birth rate in the UK and a raft of recent changes to parental rights, employers need to make themselves aware of their responsibilities to the mothers and fathers they employ. In this article, we focus on the time off parents are entitled to following the birth of a child. Maternity Leave Providing the appropriate notice is given, all pregnant employees are entitled to maternity leave of 52 weeks, irrespective of the hours they work, length of service and whether they are permanent or temporary. There are two types of maternity leave: Compulsory Maternity Leave This commences on the day on which childbirth occurs. This is to ensure that a woman has at least two weeks’ leave after the birth of her baby. It is applicable to most working environments, except factories, where there is a requirement for at least four weeks’ maternity leave after the birth of the baby. Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML) and Additional Maternity Leave (AML) This is made up of 26 weeks’ Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML) and 26 weeks’ Additional Maternity Leave (AML). Additional Maternity Leave A pregnant employee qualifies for 26 weeks’ paid leave and, if she has completed 26 weeks’ continuous service by the beginning of the 14th week before her expected week of confinement (EWC), 26 weeks unpaid. Statutory Paternity Leave An employee qualifies for statutory paternity leave (SPL) on the birth of a baby if they: Have – or expect to have – responsibility for the baby’s upbringing. Are the biological father of the baby and/or the mother’s husband or partner (including same-sex partner or civil partner). A partner is someone who lives with the mother of the baby in an enduring family relationship but is not an immediate relative. They must: Have at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment with you ending with the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) – the qualifying week. Be working for you from the qualifying week up to the date of birth. If their contract ends before the birth, they do not qualify for leave – unless they go on to work for an associated employer. If their contract ends after the birth, they retain their right to leave (and pay if they qualify). Have notified you of their intention to take paternity leave. Be taking the time off to support the mother and/or care for the baby. If an employee meets the conditions above, they can take either one or two weeks’ paternity leave (where a week is a period of seven days). They can’t take odd days off and the two weeks must be taken together. They can choose to take less than two weeks if they wish. They can choose to start the leave: on the day the baby is born a number of days or weeks after the baby is born from a specific date after the first day of the week in which the baby is expected to be born. Additional Paternity Leave Fathers of children born on or after 3 April 2011 are also entitled to Additional Paternity Leave. Find out more here. Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) An employee is entitled to SMP for a period of 39 weeks. SMP is payable as follows: The first 6 weeks at 90% of her normally weekly earnings (this is calculated over a reference period of eight weeks immediately before the start of her maternity leave) The following 33 weeks at the current statutory rate or the 90% rate if this is lower. Statutory paternity pay is paid at the current statutory rate for maternity or the 90% rate if this is lower. Employer reimbursement level Employers recover 92% of the SMP and/or SPP they pay by deducting it from their next payment of NI contributions, PAYE and other payments to HM Revenue & Customs. Small employers (those whose total NI liability is £45,000 or less in the previous tax year) may recover 104.5% of the SMP they pay. Employers may claim money in advance from HM Revenue & Customs to help with their cash flow if the payment exceeds their total tax and National Insurance contributions bill.
With an increasing birth rate in the UK and a raft of recent changes to parental rights, employers need to make themselves aware of their responsibilities to the mothers and fathers they employ. In this article, we focus on the time off parents are entitled to following the birth of a child.