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Employees

Family Friendly Rights

Maternity

Pregnant women or women on maternity leave are afforded special employment rights. A woman should not be subject to any detrimental action short of dismissal because, for example she is pregnant; has given birth to a child, is on maternity suspension, took or availed herself of the benefits of ordinary maternity leave (OML); took or sought to take additional maternity leave (AML). Any such action could be discriminatory.

Any woman who is dismissed will be regarded as being automatically unfairly dismissed if the reason or principal reason is connected to or with her pregnancy; the fact that she has given birth to a child and the dismissal ends the woman's OML or AML; the fact that she is on maternity suspension; the fact that she took OML or sought to take OML or availed herself of the benefits of any of the terms and conditions of her employment; the fact that she took AML or sought to do so etc. There may also be an automatically unfair dismissal if the woman is made redundant.

No period of continuous service (2 years) is required to claim unfair dismissal in these circumstances.

Discrimination

If a woman is dismissed during her pregnancy or maternity leave period because she is pregnant then the dismissal is likely to amount to sex discrimination as well as unfair dismissal.

Redundancy

If a woman is to be made redundant, she must be offered a suitable alternative position if available. Failure to do so may result in an automatically unfair dismissal.

Rights during OML

A woman is entitled to all benefits of employment which she would have had if she had not been on maternity leave except for remuneration such as company car, medical insurance. Special provisions may apply in respect of bonus or commission payments.

Rights during AML

During the AML certain parts of the contract continue such as requirement to give notice to terminate the contract. The woman is not entitled to remuneration nor the benefit of other terms such as company car or medical insurance.

A woman will continue to accrue the statutory minimum four weeks holiday per annum.

Rights upon return to work from OML

A woman returning from OML is entitled to return to the job in which she was employed prior to the maternity leave and terms and conditions no less favourable.

Rights upon return to work AML

A woman will be entitled to return to the job in which she was employed before her absence or if not reasonably practical for a reason other than redundancy, to a suitable and appropriate job on terms and conditions no less favourable than those which would have been applicable had she not been absent.
If the job is not suitable, there may be a claim of unfair dismissal, breach of contract and, possibly, sex discrimination.

Returning to work part time

A woman returning from OML is entitled to return to the job in which she was employed prior to the maternity leave and terms and conditions no less favourable.

Maternity pay

A woman is entitled Statutory Maternity Pay for up to 26 weeks provided she meets certain conditions including:

  • 26 weeks continuous service at the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth
  • Normal weekly earnings not less than the lower limit for National Insurance contributions in the 8 weeks up to the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth
  • The rate of pay is 90% of earnings for the first 6 weeks and a specified rate for the remainder.
  • In addition many larger employers offer an enhanced contractual maternity pay scheme.

Paternity leave

An eligible father has a right to take either one or two week's consecutive paternity leave within 56 days of the birth of the baby. In order to be eligible, the father must be either the biological father and or the mothers husband or partner and have worked continuously for 26 weeks ending with the fifteenth week before the baby is due; and from the fifteenth week before the baby is due up to the date of birth. The time off must be to support the mother or care for the new baby. The father will be entitled to statutory paternity pay. The father is entitled to all the terms and conditions and benefits of his contract of employment during the paternity leave period except any terms relating to pay.

The father has the right to return to the same job as before on the same terms and conditions that he had enjoyed prior to the paternity leave unless a redundancy situation has arisen.

Adoption leave

Adopters are afforded similar rights to maternity leave. They are protected from suffering a detriment or dismissal if the reasons relate to taking or seeking to take the adoption leave.

Parental leave

Parents of a child under 5 or an adopted child under the age of 18 or individuals who have acquired formal parental responsibility for a child under 5 years may take up to 13 weeks unpaid leave for each child or 18 weeks in the case of a disabled child provided they have 12 months continuous employment.

The leave must be taken in blocks of one week or multiples of one week (except in the case of a disabled child when the leave may be taken in blocks of one day) up to a maximum of four weeks in any one year. The leave can be taken up to the child's fifth birthday or within five years from the date of adoption or the eighteenth birthday in the case of a disabled child. In some organisations there is a Workforce Agreement governing parental leave arrangements.

The rights during parental leave are similar to those of Additional Maternity Leave (see Maternity section above). Employees have the right not to be subjected to a detriment short of dismissal or from being dismissed for taking parental leave.

Right to request flexible working

Employees have the right to request a change to the hours they work, a change to the times when they are required to work or to work from home providing they have more than 26 weeks continuous employment on the date the application is made and the request is being made to care for a child under 6 year or 18 years in the case of a disabled child. Employers have a duty to consider the request seriously. A specific procedure must be followed.

Time off to care for dependants

An employee has a right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off to 'take whatever action is necessary' to help when a dependant gives birth, becomes ill or is injured or assaulted, dies, to deal with an unexpected breakdown in the arrangements to care for a dependant or to deal with unexpected incidents involving a dependant child during school hours. There is no minimum length of continuous employment required before the employee is afforded the right.

Employees have the right not to be subjected to any detrimental action short of dismissal or dismissal because he or she took the time off or sought to take time off work to care for a dependant. Any dismissal may be automatically unfair.

Part-time working

A part-time worker has the right to the same terms and conditions as those working full time in a comparable position. A part-time employee has the right not to be subjected to detrimental treatment on the grounds that they work part-time.

 

Information on this website does not constitute legal advice. If you have a matter you would like to discuss please telephone

0845 6017756 or e-mail info@thomasmansfield.com

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