FAQs: Working parents

Can new parents have paid time off?

New mothers and fathers are entitled to certain statutory amounts of time off, with maternity or paternity pay. To qualify, employees must have been continuously employed for twenty-six weeks by the end of the fifteenth week before the baby is born. Additionally, requests for paid leave must be made fifteen weeks before the baby’s due date.

Can adoptive parents have paid time off?

Employees who are adopting a child are also entitled to certain statutory rights relating to paid leave if they have been with the employer for 26 weeks before the beginning of the week in which they were matched with a child. The payment for all new parents is at a standard rate, unless an employment contract makes a more generous provision.

Are there any health and safety issues at work for new mothers?

There are health and safety regulations regarding employees who are mothers with babies of less than six months and breastfeeding mothers, such as the right to replace night work with a suitable day job. Employers should enable their employees to continue breastfeeding at work, so long as written notification is given promptly. An employer is legally required to provide somewhere for breastfeeding mothers to rest.

Can I take unpaid leave to care for my children?

Working parents are entitled to thirteen weeks statutory unpaid parental leave, in the period before their able child is five years old, or before their disabled child is 18 years old. Additionally, working parents are entitled to request a reasonable amount of time off to care for their children in an emergency, such as an illness. A parent may request this type of leave no matter how long they have given service but should inform the employer promptly of their need.

Is flexible working a statutory right?

Working parents are allowed to ask their employer for flexible working arrangements, including measures such as flexi-time and annualised hours. An employer is not obliged to grant the request but must give it every consideration, though this may take up to 14 weeks. A parent must have been working continuously for twenty-six weeks prior to the request, and should not make more than one request per year. If an employer attempts to deny any working parent their statutory rights, the latter should seek the advice of a specialist employment lawyer.

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