Parental Leave Advice For Employers

Maternity pay

An employee reveals they’re pregnant. It’s exciting news for everyone and you’re over the moon for them. As an employer, now’s the time to get to dust off your maternity policies and paternity policies and get to grips with the legislation that you have to comply with.

From maternity and paternity leave and pay, shared parental leave and adoptive parent entitlements, to antenatal care, flexible working requests and notification periods – there’s a lot to keep up with and, more importantly, get right.

When you choose to partner with Citation we’ll work with you to make sure you’re handling your maternity and paternity obligations. From calculating maternity and paternity leave and pay, recruiting for cover through to working out holiday entitlement and benefits, we’ll be by your side when it counts.

Maternity and paternity leave entitlement

The first thing you need to head around is an employee’s entitlement to maternity or paternity leave. Each is a little different from the other. Let’s take a look at what they both entail.

Maternity leave

There are two parts to maternity leave:

  • Ordinary maternity leave and
  • additional maternity leave
Ordinary maternity leave always comes first. Both last for 26 weeks, so in total, an employee is entitled to 52 weeks of statutory maternity leave. Pregnant employees qualify for maternity leave regardless of how long they've been working for you, so there's no minimum length of service required. However, to make sure they qualify there are some conditions. A pregnant employee must:
  • Tell you, their employer, about their pregnancy at least 15 weeks before their baby is due
  • What the expected week of childbirth is (as an employer, you have the right to request a medical certificate from a doctor or midwife to confirm)
  • The date they expect to start their maternity leave. This date is usually no earlier than the start of the 11th week before the pregnant employee's due date. It's best practice for your pregnant employee to put their leaving date request in writing.
Once your employee has notified you that they're pregnant, you must write to them within the next 28 days confirming their proposed return to work date. This date would usually assume that they will take the full 52 weeks' statutory maternity leave.

Paternity leave

In terms of entitlement to paternity leave, qualifying employees are those who:

  • will be responsible for bringing up the baby
  • are the child's biological father, the mother's husband or partner (this includes same-sex couples)
  • have worked continuously for their employer for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the baby is due
  • All qualifying employees are entitled to either one or two consecutive weeks of ordinary paternity leave (it can't be two separate weeks). Paternity leave shouldn't usually start before the baby is born, but it can be mutually arranged to begin a few days before the baby is due to arrive. Employees’ paternity leave normally ends either within 56 days of the child being born or within 56 days of the first day of the expected week of childbirth (EWC); whichever is later. We've created an exclusive free guide that covers everything you need to know about paternity leave, from entitlement through to how to calculate pay. To download your copy just head here.

Maternity leave and pay

We've covered everything you need to know after an employee announces she's expecting.

Download the guide

A guide to paternity leave and pay

Everything you need to know about paternity leave and pay - in one guide.

Download the guide

Maternity and paternity pay

Maternity pay

Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for up to 39 weeks and should be processed the same way you’d normally pay your employee.

To qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), employees must meet the following criteria:

  • They must have been employed by the same employer for 26 weeks up to and including the 15th week before their EWC. This is known as the qualifying week.
  • Their average weekly earnings in the weeks up to and including the qualifying week must be equal to the lower earnings limit for National Insurance contributions.

Paternity pay

Employees are entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay if:

  • They qualify for ordinary paternity leave, and
  • Their average earnings were at least equal to the National Insurance lower earnings limit in the eight weeks running up to and including the 15th week before the EWC.

If an employee’s entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay they should be paid for the entirety of their ordinary paternity leave period.

How much are employees entitled to?

Employees who qualify for statutory maternity or paternity pay are entitled to either the statutory weekly rate of £148.68 (as of April 2019) or 90% of their weekly earnings – whichever is lower. This should be paid in the same way as their normal wage.

Maternity pay calculator

To help you keep on top of all the important dates you need to calculate maternity leave and pay, we’ve built our very own maternity calculator.

All you need is the employee’s due date and we’ll do the rest for you! We’ll tell you:

  • The latest date that the employee could have started working for you for them to qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay.
  • The deadline for the employee to tell you that they’re pregnant and want to take maternity leave.
  • The earliest start date the employee can begin their statutory maternity leave – ordinarily, this can’t be before the eleventh week before the expected week of childbirth.
  • The date on which maternity leave will automatically commence if the employee’s off work for a pregnancy-related illness.

Maternity and paternity rights

Anyone who employs a pregnant worker has a legal duty, under the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations, to perform a risk assessment and implement any necessary control measures to either control, eliminate or reduce any identified risks.

This also applies to employees of childbearing age who have given birth in the previous six months or who are breastfeeding.


Risks faced by pregnant employees

Risks could include for example:

  • heavy lifting or carrying
  • long shifts
  • standing or sitting for long periods
  • being exposed to toxic and harmful substances

If you want more information on how to properly asses risks for pregnant employees, support expectant and new parents in your workplace, download our exclusive free guide here.

How can Citation help?

Whether you need to get your head around leave dates, calculate pay, or recruit for cover – Citation’s paternity and maternity leave services have your back – the whole way through.

Our 24/7 advice line, gives you access to our team of HR & Employment Law experts any time of the day or night, year-round. You’ll have access to thousands of risk assessment templates which you can tailor to your business and use to help bolster your Health & Safety when one of your people is expecting.

Want to work with us? Just fill in your details in the form opposite and one of our team will call you back to get the ball rolling.


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