Family & Pregnancy

Family friendly rights, including leave and pay in relation to maternity, paternity, parental and adoption are a constantly evolving and growing area of employment law. The law on these matters can often be technical and confusing, but whether you are an employer or an employee, we are able to provide practical, useful advice.


  • Rights
  • Leave
  • Pay

Family friendly rights include maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption leave.

  • Pregnancy and Maternity
  • Shared Parental leave
  • Adoption leave

Our specialist employment lawyers are experienced at managing Employment Tribunal claims and will provide you with a realistic assessment of the case, including prospects of success. We will also use our experience in this area to provide you with strategic advice to ensure the best possible outcome for you.

Pregnancy and Maternity leave and pay

Pregnant women and new mothers have legal employment rights which are designed to protect their health and safety and that of their expectant or newborn children. These rights also protect their contractual terms and conditions of employment and are designed to prevent unlawful discrimination.

  • Rights
  • Calculating pay and holidays
  • Leave
  • Pregnancy related absence
  • Discrimination

Shared parental leave and pay

The current entitlement to 52 weeks of maternity leave (39 weeks paid) will remain the default position for all employed women, as will the two-week period of compulsory maternity leave. However, if the parents wish they can now avail of the new system of shared parental leave (SPL) and shared parental pay (SPP).

Qualifying parents will be able to share between them up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay. Both parents will need to give their respective employers eight weeks’ notice to begin SPL and claim SPP. However, employers will not be obliged to agree to the SPL pattern proposed by their employees.

An employee returning to work from SPL will have the right to return to the same job, as long as they have taken 26 or fewer weeks’ leave in total.

Adoption leave and pay

Adoption leave is being brought in line with maternity leave so staff will no longer be required to have 26 weeks service to be able to take adoption leave and the pay will now match maternity pay.

Connected to basic family friendly rights are the right to request time off to look after dependents and request flexible working arrangements. Employers need to be aware that since June 2014 all employees are able to request flexible working arrangements.

  • Time off for dependants
  • Flexible working requests

Time off for dependants

Employees you have the right to unpaid time off work to deal with emergencies involving a ‘dependant’. A dependant could be a spouse, partner, child, grandchild, parent, or someone who depends on you for care. The right to time off covers a wide range of situations, but it must be a genuine emergency that the employee was not aware of in advance.

Flexible working requests

Since June 2014, any employee with 26 weeks’ continuous service will be able to make an application to work flexibly for any reason. The new legislation does not give employees the right to work flexibly. Instead, it provides a right to request flexible working. Eligible employees can request a change to working hours, working time or working location. This includes a wide range of working patterns, such as job sharing, working from home, part time working, compressed hours and flexitime.

  • Expert advice
  • Clarity
  • Solutions

These areas above can throw up difficult questions, which can lead to disputes arising between an employer and the employee. Our Employment law solicitors ensure that they are fully updated on all developments in this area to ensure that they can offer the most up to date advice to you. We will provide clarity about the various rights and their interaction with one another and ensure that you are able to afford your employees their full rights without causing any disruption to your business.

We can help you draft and implement policies in relation to family friendly rights and can help you with the process when issues occur and you need help and guidance. We can also provide clarity around entitlement to pay, holiday, bonuses and other benefits which may be due to employees on family-related leave.