For everyone in the UK it was Mother’s Day yesterday. We hope all you Mums young and old had a great day.
For all the working mums out there we are looking at Maternity Leave today and your rights when returning back to work. There were some changes last year to the law so you may not be up-to-date with the changes. Alternatively you may be a working woman who is thinking of having or adopting a child and you are wondering what your rights would be when returning back to work.
Returning back to work after having or adopting a child may not be for everyone but if you are planning on going back to your old position, it is good to know what your rights are and it is good to know your job is protected by law.
Maternity Leave: Your Rights When Returning Back To Work
Right To The Same Job & Same T&C’s
When returning to work after Ordinary Maternity Leave, which is the first 26 weeks of your Statutory Maternity Leave, you have the right to the same job and the same terms and conditions as before you went on leave. Which includes pay rises and holiday accrue as well as your right to return to work.
If you come back after your Additional Maternity Leave, which is the last 26 weeks of your Statutory Maternity Leave, the same as above applies. However if your employer can demonstrate that it’s not reasonably practical for you to return to your same job, the situation changes. For example, your job may not exist anymore. If this happens then you must be offered an alternative job with the same terms and conditions.
Notice Of Your Return To Work
If you take the full 52 weeks leave then you don’t need to give notice that you are coming back. However if you wish to return early then you must give your employer 8 weeks’ notice. If you don’t your employer has a right to say that you can’t until the 8 weeks has passed.
If you are not returning to work at all after your leave, due to illness or otherwise, then you inform your employer in the usual way.
Let’s not forget about the father of your child or your partner as they could be entitled to 1 or 2 weeks paid Statutory Paternity Leave! However this won’t last long as this is only true if your child was due, or placed for adoption, before 5th April 2015. If after this date then Shared Parental Leave applies which we talk about below.
Additional Paternity Leave can be taken up to 20 weeks after the birth but needs to be taken before the child’s 1st birthday, (or within one year of adoption). However the father of your child or your partner is only entitled to Additional Paternity Leave if you return to work. You may not get both leave and pay, read the rules on how to claim and when your leave can start.
The father of your child or your partner has the same employment rights protected while on paternity leave as you do. These include pay rises, holiday accrue as well as their right to return to work.
Shared Parental Leave
The law was changed recently from Paternity Leave to Shared Paternity Leave. It only applies if your child was born after 4th April 2015.
You can take leave in blocks instead of in one go, great news if you want to save some paid leave for when you really need it.
If you need to take more time off after Maternity Leave then you can take up to 4 weeks Parental Leave without it affecting your right to return to your job. If you take more than 4 weeks leave, your employer is entitled to show that it is not reasonably practical for you to return to the same job, as with Maternity Leave. Again, if this happens you are entitled to a different job with the same terms and conditions as your previous job.
Parental Leave doesn’t have to follow straight from your Maternity Leave, you can take it at any time after you have returned to work. Each parent is eligible for Shared Parental Leave and you can share it between you if you are both eligible. A leap forward in equal rights!
Flexible Working Hours
If you have been working consistently for 26 weeks then you are entitled to ask for flexible working hours. Your employer must consider the request and reply to you in writing. Great news for all of us who are juggling work and looking after children!
For more information, go to the Gov.uk website section on Maternity Leave, Paternal Leave and Shared Parental Leave.
If you have problems with your employer, talk to them in the first instance as it may be a misunderstanding. If you are still having problems, then follow your employer’s grievance procedure.