Useful information on other maternity rights which apply no matter how long you have been employed or how many hours you work per week with information on parental leave, benefits, sickness and health and safety.
Maternity Rights apply no matter how long you have been employed or how many hours you work per week.
Paid time off for antenatal care
All employees have the right to take reasonable time off for antenatal appointments, including time needed to travel to your clinic or GP without loss of pay. You should let your employer know when you need time off. After your first appointment your employer can ask to see your appointment card and a certificate stating that you are pregnant. Antenatal care can include parentcraft and relaxation classes. You may need a letter to show your employer from your GP or midwife, saying that these classes are part of your antenatal care.
Health and safety rights
If you are pregnant, have recently given birth or are breastfeeding, your employer must make sure that the kind of work you do and your working conditions will not put your health or your baby's health at risk. In order to get the full benefit of this legal protection you must notify your employer in writing that you are pregnant or have recently given birth or are breastfeeding.
Your employer must:
Dismissal or unfair treatment
- carry out a risk assessment at your workplace and do all that is reasonable to remove or reduce the risks found.
- if there are still risks, your employer must alter your working conditions or hours of work to remove the risk.
- if this is not possible or would not avoid the risk, your employer must offer you a suitable alternative job.
- if this is not possible your employer must suspend you on full pay for as long as is necessary to avoid the risks.
- if you do night work and your doctor advises that you should stop for health and safety reasons, you have the right to transfer to day work or, if that is not possible, to be suspended on full pay, but you must provide a medical certificate.
It is against the law for your employer to treat you unfairly, dismiss you or select you for redundancy for any reason connected with pregnancy, childbirth or maternity leave. If you are dismissed whilst you are pregnant (or during your maternity leave), your employer must give you a written statement of the reasons. If you are making a claim against your employer, you must put your claim to the Employment Tribunal within three months. You may also have a claim for compensation for sex discrimination.
Parental leave and time off for dependants
are entitled to take up to 13 weeks unpaid leave per child, up until the child's 5th birthday.
Parents are also entitled to unpaid leave to care for a dependant who falls ill, gives birth or is injured. The leave can also be used if there is a sudden problem with arrangements for care of the dependant (e.g. if your childminder falls ill).
Parental leave is also available for parents who adopt a child.
All pregnant women and new mothers are entitled to free prescriptions and free NHS dental care. Once your baby is born you will also be entitled to claim Child Benefit, ask your Health Visitor for the claim form.
You are protected from unfair dismissal and sex discrimination if you are off sick during pregnancy, maternity leave or on your return to work. Any pregnancy-related sickness absence must be recorded separately and should not be included in your total sickness absence for disciplinary or redundancy purposes. However, if you receive contractual sick pay, time taken off for a pregnancy-related illness can count towards your total sickness absence.
If you go for an interview during pregnancy you do not have to tell the employer that you are pregnant, especially if you feel it is too early to tell anyone. The fact that you are pregnant should not have any bearing on whether you are the right person for the job and it is sex discrimination to refuse to employ a woman because she is pregnant. If you are changing jobs during your pregnancy, you will not qualify for SMP or AML but you may be able to claim Maternity Allowance instead.