maternity rights

maternity rights
The rights of a woman when she is absent from work because of her pregnancy or confinement. The current law is contained in the Employment Rights Act (1996) as supplemented by the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations (1999 and 2002). There are currently seven statutory rights:
• (1) All pregnant employees are entitled to reasonable time off work, with pay, for antenatal care.
• (2) An employee is entitled not to be dismissed because of pregnancy or any reason connected with it.
• (3) A pregnant employee who meets certain qualifying conditions is entitled to receive statutory maternity pay from her employer for up to 26 weeks. Employers can recover 92% of such payments by setting the amount against their National Insurance payments.
• (4) An employee who continues to be employed by her employer until the beginning of the 11th week before the expected week of confinement is entitled to maternity leave of at least 26 weeks. Additional maternity leave of up to 26 weeks from the end of ordinary maternity leave is also available to employees who have completed a minimum of 26 weeks' service by the 14th week before the expected week of confinement.
• (5) An employee entitled to maternity leave is also entitled to return to work with her employer, provided that the employer employs more than five people.
• (6) Throughout the maternity leave period the employee is entitled to continue to benefit from all contractual terms of her employment with the exception of remuneration (money payment).
• (7) Pregnant women, and women who have recently given birth or who are breastfeeding, have the right to be offered any suitable alternative work, rather than being suspended on maternity-related health and safety grounds. In the UK men enjoyed no statutory paternity rights until 1999, when an EU directive was adopted into British law entitling a parent of either sex to take a total of 13 weeks unpaid leave in the first five years of a child's life (but only four weeks in any one year). New fathers became entitled to two weeks' statutory paternity pay in April 2003. A growing number of companies now operate contractual schemes providing for a period of paid and-or unpaid paternity leave.

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