Know Your Rights As A Parent

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The rights that you have at work are very important and you probably know what they are. However, when you become a parent, you gain a new set of rights that you might not be as familiar with. Hopefully your employer is an honest person, but realistically there are going to be some businesses that will try to get away with giving you less than you are entitled to. You have to look out for yourself, so it’s vital that you have a full understanding of all of the specific rights you have as a parent. If you’re expecting, you need to get yourself up to speed now to avoid any potential problems in the future.

37 Weeks 5 days (edit)

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Breastfeeding At Work

Breastfeeding in public is a very contentious issue. There is a certain group of people who believe it should not be allowed in public places as it makes them feel uncomfortable, but this is a violation of your rights. When it comes to public places, it is at the discretion of the business to decide whether they will allow customers to breastfeed openly on the premises. When it comes to the workplace, it is not up to the employer. You have a legal right to breastfeed at work. While this doesn’t mean that you will be allowed to do it wherever you like, your employer must provide a place for you to breastfeed. If you have your baby with you at work and your employer has forbidden you from breastfeeding, this is illegal and you should challenge them on it. You are also protected by normal health and safety regulations when breastfeeding; so if there is anything that could compromise the safety of you or your baby while you are feeding them, it falls to your employer to remove any hazards to ensure that you have a safe and secure place to breastfeed your child.

Maternity Leave

Maternity leave rights are dependent on your status within the company. If you are what is known as a worker, somebody that has a contract of services but is not technically employed by the company, then you are not entitled to maternity leave at all. It is up to the employer to decide whether they will grant you time off. The most common example of a ‘worker’ is somebody that is on a zero hours contract.

The majority of people are considered employees. This means that you have a contract with the employer, regardless of the hours that you normally work. Most people are in this situation, so you need to look at the anatomy of a maternity leave policy to make sure that you are given everything you are entitled to. All employees have a legal right to one year of maternity leave. This is not dependent on how long you have worked there, or how many hours you do a week. As long as you have a contract, you can take a year off.

Maternity Pay

When it comes to maternity pay, it gets a bit more complicated. The basic level of maternity pay is called ‘Statutory maternity pay’. You are entitled to this if you have worked for the company in the fifteenth week before the baby is due, and the twenty five weeks before that. You also need to earn at least £113 per week, before tax. Use this handy calculator to see whether you are eligible for statutory pay. You will get 90% of your average pay for the first six weeks then this will change to £140.98 per week, or the 90%, whichever is lower.

Some employers also offer what is called ‘Contractual Maternity Pay’. This just means that the employer wants to give you a bit of extra. The terms of this are completely up to them, but can only be the same or more than the statutory pay. Nobody can ever pay you less than the statutory rate if you are eligible for it.

If you aren’t eligible for either of these, the government will offer you a maternity allowance. The maternity allowance will be worked out in the same way as the statutory pay, but it will come from the government instead of an employer.

Paternity Leave

In countries like Sweden, the fathers get the same amount of leave as the mothers when a child is born. Unfortunately, we aren’t quite there yet. All you will be entitled to is one or two weeks if you qualify. If you have been with the employer for twenty six weeks by the time the fifteenth week before the due date comes around, then you are entitled. You can calculate this in much the same way as maternity leave. You need to be the biological father of the child, or the partner of the mother to be (it doesn’t matter if you aren’t married). So, a family member that is helping with the care of the child would not be eligible for leave.

If you are going to take paternity leave, you need to give your employer fifteen weeks notice. The leave can only start on the day that the baby is born. You can take it later, but it needs to be taken within fifty six days of the birth.

You can still apply for paternity leave if you are adopting a child. Instead of the due date, all of the details are worked out using the date that the child moves in with you. If you already knew the child previously, then you can’t apply for paternity leave for an adoption. The most common example of this is adopting a stepchild.

The amount of money that you receive is the same as statutory maternity pay.

Sharing Maternity Leave

If the father is going to be taking on more of the childcare responsibilities while the mother returns to work, then the system isn’t very practical. There are provisions for these situations in the form of shared parental leave. You are allowed to share up to fifty weeks of your time off, and thirty seven weeks of your pay. This will be taken from the mother’s allowance and added to the father’s, you cannot both take it. The same rules still apply to the father so, as long as he meets the requirements that are put on the mother, he can take some of her leave.

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