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New changes to maternity leave in 2015
What is happening to maternity and paternity leave in 2015?
With all the changes to parents’ rights being announced recently, it’s difficult to keep track of what mums and dads are entitled to right now. Here’s a summary for those expecting children over the next few months and years:
- Maternity leave is up to 52 weeks. Mums can go back early by giving 8 weeks’ notice. They may be entitled to up to 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance.
- Ordinary paternity leave is 1 or 2 weeks shortly after the baby is born. If the mum goes back early, ending her maternity pay once the baby is at least 20 weeks old (this usually means she has to work for 10 days during or at the end of her leave), the father or partner can take additional paternity leave. Additional paternity pay can only be paid for a maximum of 19 weeks (the balance of mum’s 39 weeks’ maternity pay if she goes back when baby is 20 weeks’ old).
- Only dads and partners who meet the conditions can get paternity leave and pay – they must have worked for the same employer throughout the pregnancy and earn at least £109 a week (£111 from April 2014). Self-employed people don’t qualify.
- Each parent also has the right to up to 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave, per child, until the child is 5 (or 18 if disabled). They must have worked for at least a year for the same employer.
- Employed dads or partners will have the right to attend two ante-natal appointments, although this will be an unpaid right.
- A system of shared parental leave (not to be confused with unpaid parental leave) will replace current maternity leave and additional paternity leave.
- Mums will still be able to take up to 52 weeks of leave if they want to. They must take two weeks after the birth as a recovery period, but after that it is up to them how they want to share their leave with their partner.
- Dads and partners will still have the right to one or two weeks of paternity leave around the birth, and this will continue to be available only if you meet the conditions (employment throughout the pregnancy for the same employer, and, for statutory paternity pay, earning at least the lower earnings limit). This means that self-employed dads and partners, or those who start new jobs during a pregnancy, still won’t qualify.
- Mums and dads/partners can take leave at the same time under the new system, as long as they don’t exceed the total amount of leave available, 52 weeks.
- There won’t be any more paid time off than there is now, so there will be a maximum of 37 weeks of flexible parental pay which could be taken by a dad or partner where a woman getting statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance chooses to stop those payments. You have to meet the same conditions as currently though, so self-employed dads and partners will still lose out.
- Under flexible parental leave, another difference is that you can stop and start your leave – so a mum could go back to work, and then return to her time off looking after her baby.
- Unpaid parental leave will continue at 18 weeks per child per qualifying parent, but from 2015, you’ll be able to take it for any child up to the age of 18.
Need more advice?
If you want more advice about the current system of parental or paternity leave or pay, please contact our legal helpline team on 0300 012 0312, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s more information about parental and paternity leave on their website www.workingfamilies.org.uk
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