All workers in the UK have statutory rights, while most also have an employment contract. According to citizensadvice.org, your statutory rights take precedence over your employment contract. For example, if your job contract doesn’t allow for maternity or paternity leave, it is void, because all full-time employees who meet the guidelines stipulated by statutory law are entitled to parental rights. Here is more about your responsibilities and rights as a working parent.
According to Gov.uk, expectant mothers can take up to 52 weeks of statutory maternity leave around the birth of their child. They also may be able to claim Statutory Maternity Pay from employers before and after the birth of the baby.
Your employer may offer more benefits than the legal minimum, so talk to them first. You need to notify your employer by gathering the following information:
- Your due date
- When you want to begin maternity leave
- A medical certificate (MATB1) from your midwife or obstetrician
Once they receive your notice, your employer must inform you within 28 days of the exact date your maternity leave ends.
Working fathers may be eligible for one or two weeks’ pay via Ordinary Paternity Leave (OPL) or Additional Paternity Leave (APL) when their partner returns to work. The exact requirements are available at Gov.uk. In addition, dads who adopt a child may also qualify. You should also look into Statutory Paternity Pay. Again, some employers offer better paternity leave benefits than the statutory requirements, so check there first.
Shared Parental Leave
According to Gov.uk, you may be eligible for Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) if you adopt or have a child on or after April 5, 2015. To learn more about ShPP, visit Citizensadvice.org.
Know Your Parental Rights
As a working parent, you have many rights, which include, but are not limited to, the following:
Workers who are caregivers, whether a child or an adult, have the legal right to request flexible working. This includes home working, flex time and part-time hours. Bear in mind, the rights and requirements vary in Northern Ireland.
Parental leave offers eligible parents the right to take unpaid time off from their jobs to care for a child or to make further arrangements for their welfare.
Time Off for Dependents
Also called compassionate leave, you have the right to take unpaid time off to care for a dependent without penalization from your employer. The person can be your wife, husband, partner, parent, or child; anyone who relies on your help in an emergency. It could even be your elderly neighbour who lives alone that you are assisting.
The Right to Appeal
UK citizens have the right to appeal if their request is refused, but it must be in writing and submitted within 14 days of the employer’s decision. State your reasons clearly, and be sure to date your appeal. You can also ask the ACAS to help you sort out the dispute with your employer. They have a flexible working arbitration scheme in place to handle these types of disputes. If you are in Northern Ireland, contact the Labour Relations Agency.
In some cases, you can make a claim to an employment tribunal based on discrimination. Since this is a complicated area, you should get advice from an experienced adviser in such areas, such as Claims Direct
Parents who need additional help or advice to resolve a dispute or problem regarding their rights at work can contact the following organisations:
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – Both workers and employers can find further information about their rights and responsibilities there.
Working Families – They provide a voice to working caregivers and parents, helping create a balance between home and work.
By knowing your rights as a working parent, you can provide the best for your family, as well as for yourself. So, start by knowing what you are eligible for, and then talk to your employer. Create a plan that will balance your work and home life, so you can be there for your children whenever they need you.