An Overview of Employment Rights During Maternity Leave

In the UK, expecting mothers are entitled to a period of maternity leave to give birth and care for their new born child.

Maternity leave is protected by law, and employers must adhere to specific regulations to ensure that they are treating their employees fairly during this time.

Duration of Maternity Leave

Expecting mothers can take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, regardless of how long they have worked for their employer. This leave is divided into two types:

  1. Ordinary Maternity Leave: The first 26 weeks of leave.
  2. Additional Maternity Leave: The second 26 weeks of leave.

Expectation for Maternity Pay

During the first six weeks of maternity leave, expecting mothers are entitled to 90% of their average weekly earnings. For the remaining 33 weeks, they are entitled to either £151.97 per week or 90% of their average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

If the expecting mother is not eligible for statutory maternity pay, she may be able to claim maternity allowance instead. To qualify for maternity leave, the employee must inform their employer that they are pregnant, their expected due date, and when they intend to start their maternity leave. They must also have worked for the employer continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected due date.

Employment Rights While on Maternity Leave

In the UK, employees are entitled to certain employment rights while on maternity leave. Employees continue to accrue holiday entitlement while on maternity leave, and they have the right to receive any pay increases or benefits that they would have received if they were not on leave. They can also work up to 10 ‘keeping in touch’ days without losing their entitlement to maternity pay. Employers must ensure that they adhere to these regulations to avoid any potential claims of maternity discrimination.

Employment Rights After Maternity Leave

After maternity leave, employees in the UK have a range of employment rights to protect them. Firstly, they have the right to return to their previous job on the same terms and conditions as before their leave. If that is not possible, the employer must offer a similar position with the same pay and conditions.

If an employee has been away from work for less than 26 weeks, they are entitled to the same seniority, pay rises, and any other benefits that they would have received if they had not taken maternity leave. If the employee has been away for more than 26 weeks, the employer is not obliged to provide the same benefits or pay rises but must consider the employee’s case on an individual basis.

Additionally, employees are protected against any unfair treatment, discrimination, or dismissal because of their maternity leave. If an employer fails to comply with these regulations, they could face legal action, and the employee may be entitled to compensation.

Employment Rights Act 1996 Maternity Leave

The Employment Rights Act 1996 provides the legal framework for maternity leave entitlements, including the duration of leave, pay during leave, and employment rights before, during, and after maternity leave. Employers must comply with these regulations to ensure that they are treating their employees fairly and if they don’t, can face legal action.

If you’re looking for professional support regarding maternity, paternity and parental rights, contact our employment law solicitors today.