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Family Friendly Policies

An employee can take reasonable time off on an unpaid basis for family emergencies involving their dependants.  The definition of “family emergency” covers dependants having accidents or falling ill, or unexpected problems with arrangements for caring for dependants who are their direct family such as children, parents and anyone living in their household.


Flexible Working

Any employee who is a parent or guardian of a child under 17 (or 18 if the child

is disabled), may apply for flexible working.  The employer has to consider

the Application and follow a formal process in deciding whether to approve the


Parental unpaid leave

An employee can apply for up to 18 weeks unpaid leave if they have a child under 5 (or 18 if the child is entitled to disability living allowance).  There are procedures to follow in relation to giving your employer sufficient notice of the leave and the employee has to have been employed for a period of 1 year.


Paternity leave paid

An employee can take up to 2 weeks Statutory Paternity Leave within 8 weeks of the birth or adoption of the child.  The payment is at the Statutory Maternity Pay (“SMP”) rate.   The employer must be given 15 weeks notice of the employee’s intent to take this leave.  


The current rate of SMP and SPP is £135.45 per week.


In all these cases if an employee is subject to victimisation for exercising their rights, they can lodge a claim at the Employment Tribunal.  Any claim must be lodged within 3 months of the last act complained of.


Maternity Rights

Firstly, an employee does not have a right to paid statutory maternity leave unless they have been an employee for at least 26 weeks at the 15th week prior to the week of the expected date of childbirth.  The expected due date is the date identified in the MATB1 form provided by the midwife.  The employee must also be above the lower earnings limit which varies from time-to-time.  This means that if a woman changes her job she will lose her maternity leave rights to SMP for a period when she takes up a new job.


The employee does not have to notify the employer until she receives her MATB1, which is 26 weeks prior to the week of confinement.  The employee can chose when to start her maternity leave any time up to and including the week of confinement unless she becomes ill within 6 weeks prior to the expected week of childbirth, in which case her maternity leave will automatically commence.


Maternity pay for SMP is based on 6 weeks at 90% of her normal pay and up to 33 weeks at the SMP rate of £136.78.  She can then take a further 13 weeks unpaid leave.


If the employee is not eligible for SMP she may be eligible for Maternity Allowance, which is payable by the State directly.  Alternatively, she can apply for income support.