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Family Friendly Rights

This is a constantly evolving area of employment law. Family-friendly policies and legislation are changing all of the time. The aim of family-friendly rights is to achieve more choice on the balance of work and family for employees. The most common areas are:

Maternity leave

The key rights are:

  • Time off for antenatal appointments.
  • Health and safety protection while pregnant and breastfeeding.
  • Up to 52 weeks' maternity leave. Employees are entitled to one year's statutory maternity leave (made up of ordinary maternity leave and additional maternity leave), regardless of length of service.
  • Statutory maternity pay (SMP) for up to 39 weeks.
  • The right to return to the same job.
  • Priority for alternative employment in redundancy cases.
  • The right to request flexible working conditions on return to work.
  • Protection from dismissal, detriment or discrimination by reason of pregnancy or maternity.

Paternity leave

This deals with the statutory rights of the spouse, partner or civil partner of a child's mother or adopter to ordinary and additional paternity leave following the birth or adoption of a child. The right to additional paternity leave is available to parents of babies due on or after 3 April 2011 and to adoptive parents notified that they have been matched with a child for adoption on or after that date.

Adoption leave

Since April 2003, employees have had the right to take time off work after adopting a child. As a basic proposition, all employees are entitled to take up to 52 weeks’ adoption leave if they satisfy certain conditions.

Parental leave

The provisions and requirements are akin to the terms and conditions that apply to a woman taking additional maternity leave.

Flexible working

Qualifying parents have the right to request flexible working. Employers are not bound to agree to an employee’s request but must consider any such request seriously. There is a certain procedure which must be followed when making a request.

Time off for dependants

All employees are entitled to reasonable unpaid time off work to look after a dependant. This will apply in order to take action necessary:

  • To assist a dependant who is ill, has given birth, is injured or assaulted
  • To arrange care for an ill or injured dependant
  • As a result of the death of a dependant
  • Due to care arrangements being disrupted or ending
  • To deal with an incident at the child’s school

Our specialist employment lawyers regularly advise on these and other areas concerning family-friendly rights. If you have a query or feel you may want to challenge an approach taken by your employer in one of these areas, contact one of our employment law solicitors who will be able to assist. We appreciate that this is a delicate area and you may feel uncomfortable but our expert lawyers will work with you in seeking to resolve difficulties without jeopardising your working environment.

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