Maternity and Paternity Leave: How To Apply And What You Should Know
Are you or your partner expecting a baby? Do you know about your rights to Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave and Shared Parental Leave? Find out more with our easy to understand guide.
Having a baby is a life changing event and thankfully, we have government policies to support you when you have given birth. The UK has a range of maternity and paternity benefits to ensure you get important time with your new baby.
Applying For Maternity Leave
As a female employee in the UK you are entitled to take time off to have you baby and you may be eligible for Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay.
Statutory Maternity Leave (SML) is 52 weeks and is made up of:
- 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave
- 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave
It is not essential that you take 52 weeks but you must take at least two weeks leave following the birth of your baby (four weeks if you work in an industrial factory).
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is available for up to 39 weeks and consists of:
- 90% of your average weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks
- £139.58 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the remaining 33 weeks.
Your SMP is paid in the same way as your salary.
To apply for Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay you must tell your employer at least 15 weeks before your due date and inform them when you wish it to begin. Your employer will then write to you to conform.
Applying For Paternity Leave
As a male employee you may be eligible for Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay if you and your partner are:
- Having a baby
- Adopting a child
- Having a baby through some form of surrogacy agreement
If eligible, you are able to choose to take either 1 week or weeks consecutive leave. This is the same regardless of whether you have one child, twins or multiple births. To apply for Paternity Leave is simple and you just need to give you employer a written request at least 15 weeks before the baby is expected. You must also tell them:
- When the baby is due
- When you want your leave to begin
- How much leave you want
Statutory Paternity Pay is £139.58 per week or 90 per cent of your average weekly earning, if that is less.
Applying For Shared Parental Leave
A recent innovation in the UK is Shared Parental Leave. Statutory Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShOP) entitles parents to share 52 weeks of leave in blocks separated by periods of work instead of one parent taking it all in one go. This enables both parents to have important early time with the baby.
Both mother and father must apply for SPL and ShOP and give your employers at least eight weeks notice.
For more information on Maternity, Paternity and Shared Parental Leave, there are a range of organisations that you can approach for advice including:
The Department For Work and Pensions
The Citizens Advice Bureau