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Working parent? Here’s everything you need to know

Expecting a baby? Already a parent?  Do you employ parents or soon to be parents?  We’re often asked about what parents are entitled to or how everything works with employers when someone takes maternity or paternity leave. Most people know about leave and pay entitlements, but other things do crop up that are less familiar or quite complicated. Here’s a guide to some of the more random things you might not know.


Every new mother can take maternity leave.  

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been employed, how much you’re paid or how many hours you work, everyone is entitled to maternity leave.  You can have up to one year of time off work after you’ve had a baby. You don’t have to take all the leave but you must take 2 weeks’ minimum after the birth (4 weeks if you work in a factory).


Did you know your employment rights are protected whilst on maternity or paternity leave?

This includes pay rises, holiday and returning to your job.


What happens to my holiday?

Your holiday entitlement keeps accruing while you are on leave. You can use your holiday before or after your leave to add a bit of extra time to spend with your baby, on full pay, if you like.


Self-employed or not been with your employer for long?

You may get Maternity Allowance rather than Maternity Pay. The amount will vary depending on your circumstances. You’ll need an MA1 claim form and will have to meet the eligibility criteria detailed here https://www.gov.uk/maternity-allowance/what-youll-get . This is paid to your bank account via Job Centre Plus and may also affect some of your other benefits, so do check.


What if I am adopting?

Only one parent is entitled to adoption leave but the other may be entitled to paternity leave or shared parental leave instead.

Your employment rights are protected whilst on leave. You are also entitled to paid time off work to attend up to 5 adoption appointments once matched with a child.

Statutory adoption pay is the same as maternity and paternity pay. Some companies pay more than the statutory minimum, so it’s worth checking. You can see details of all statutory payments here.



What is Shared Parental Leave?

Shared Parental Leave allows BOTH parents or adopters to choose how to share time off work.

Shared Parental Leave can give parents more flexibility. Parents are able to share a pot of leave of up to one year. They can decide to be off work at the same time and/or take it in turns to have periods of leave to look after the child.

The rules and eligibility around this are quite complicated, so it’s worth checking the details here https://www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay


Do I get time off for ante-natal appointments?

Yes, dads and partners: you are also entitled to time off to attend 2 ante-natal appointments with your partner. These can be up to 6 hours per appointment.

Expectant mums can have reasonable time off for antenatal visits. Every woman is different so employers should be flexible, but they can ask to see your appointment cards.

Surrogacy arrangements mean you are also entitled to time off for 2 appointments.


My employer has asked me to do keeping in touch (KIT) days. What are they?

These days are designed for people on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave. They are optional and you can have up to 10, fully paid. They are designed to ‘keep you in touch’ with your employer and can be used for training, team meetings, a general catch up or to plan a return to work. They can be useful and help you to feel less isolated from the workplace while on leave, as well as preparing for your return to work.


Can I ask to go back to work part-time? Can my partner change their hours instead?

Yes and flexible working requests can be made by anyone – not just parents.

You might find, as a new parent that the work life balance needs changing. You do need to have 26 weeks’ service with your employer and can only make one formal request in a 12-month period though. Flexible working can describe a place of work such as home working or a work pattern such as part-time, job share, shift work. Employers must consider formal requests and can only refuse if they have a sound business reason.


Do you know about emergency dependents leave? We all need to use it occasionally.

All employees have the right to time off during working hours for dependants, this is normally for emergencies. There is no legal right to be paid; however some employers may.

A dependant could be a spouse, partner, child, parent, or someone who depends on an employee for care, for example an elderly neighbour.

The leave can be taken for example:

  • to deal with a breakdown in childcare
  • to put longer term care in place for children or elderly relatives
  • if a dependant falls ill or is taken into hospital
  • to arrange or attend a funeral.


Is parental leave the same as shared parental leave then? It’s a bit confusing!

Not to be confused with shared parental leave or maternity or paternity leave.  Parental leave is totally different and unpaid. You can have up to 4 weeks per year, up to a maximum of 18 weeks up to your child’s 18th birthday, as long as you’ve been with your employer for at least a year.


Will my employer help with childcare costs?

Some lucky people have work-based nurseries. Others have employers who run schemes such as childcare vouchers. These are closing for new applicants in April 2018 but will stay for those of you who already use them, so don’t panic!

From April 2018 you will be able to use the HMRC tax-free childcare scheme.




By Melissa

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