Maternity Leave - The Facts

Employees Four Key Pregnancy Rights

Spring is on the way and thoughts turn to new beginnings! don't wait until you are on Maternity leave, if you are considering starting or extending your family it's worth having an idea about some of the legislation surrounding pregnant employees. Otherwise, you may have a colleague or team member who is expecting.

Pregnant employees have 4 key rights: paid time off for antenatal care, maternity leave, maternity pay and protection against unfair treatment, discrimination or dismissal. Antenatal care isn't just medical appointments. Antenatal or parenting classes which have been recommended by a doctor or midwife are also included.

Employers can't change a pregnant employee's contract terms and conditions without agreement. If they do, they are in breach of contract. Maternity leave and statutory maternity pay will start automatically if an employee is away from work for a pregnancy-related illness during the 4 weeks before the baby is due. This is regardless of what has been agreed before. If you aren't taking statutory maternity leave, you must take 2 weeks off after the baby is born. This is extended to 4 weeks if you work in a factory.

You must tell your employer about the pregnancy at least 15 weeks before the start of the week when the baby is due. If this isn't possible (eg. if you didn't know that you were pregnant) you must advise your employer as soon as possible. You must also tell your employer when you want to start your statutory maternity pay.

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