The summer is almost over and the autumn months are drawing in with the new academic year commencing.
Given this, it is a good time to remind client organisations of employees’ rights in relation to their children. As soon as an employee is expecting a baby / has a child, they automatically have additional, protected, rights. These include;
- Maternity and paternity rights;
- Shared parental leave;
- Adoption leave;
- Unpaid time off to look after their child, or Parental Leave.
All expectant employees are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave, irrespective of length of service. However, entitlement to pay has various conditions, including continuous service for the employer of at least 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the expected week of the childbirth.
To give a brief overview, Statutory Maternity pay is payable for 39 weeks; 6 weeks at 90% of the average weekly earnings, and then 33 weeks at the SMP rate (which is currently £148.68).
If an employee does not meet the conditions for maternity pay then they may be entitled to Maternity Allowance, which is paid through the Department for Work and Pensions.
An organisation may also have enhanced maternity benefits which would need to be assessed against your individual policy which your Carers HR advisor would be more than happy to discuss further.
Another point to bear in mind as an employer, is that all pregnant employees are entitled to paid time off to attend antenatal appointments. An employer is entitled to request the appointment evidence or other documents to show that this is a legitimate appointment.
Employees who have been matched with a child through adoption are also entitled to adoption leave, irrespective of length of service. An employee can take up to 52 weeks leave, and as with Statutory Maternity Leave (SMP), they are entitled to 39 weeks Statutory Adoption Pay (provided certain conditions are met).
Employee’s whose partner is having a baby or a child (through adoption) is entitled to one or two consecutive weeks to help care for the child. Entitlement to this right does have its conditions, and the same length of service, as above for maternity, is one of them.
Employees are also able to share the time off during the first year after a birth or adoption. This allows greater flexibility and is known as Shared Parental Leave.
Parental leave allows employees to take time off to look after / care for their child (under the age of 18 years old). Employees can take up to 18 weeks each year per child, and it is usually unpaid. Again, there are conditions to this entitlement, one is the employee must have continuous service of at least 12 months.
Other rights / types of leave to bear in mind are time off for dependents and flexible working requests, which are there to help the employees’ needs.
The above examples of Parental Leave are neither exclusive nor exhaustive. Each individual employee’s situation can be complex, and certain processes do need to be followed in relation to them (and to ensure processes are insured). If you are in any doubt, then please contact your dedicated advisor today.