Having just finished our latest series of posts on discrimination in the workplace (particularly in the context of the restaurant industry) we are now going to move on to an examination of the rights that accrue to workers by virtue of (expectant) childbirth and care of dependants. This series of posts will therefore look at the rights of workers relating to the following categories:

  • Maternity and pregnancy rights
  • Paternity rights
  • Adoption rights
  • Parental rights
  • Time off to care for dependants

These posts will consider worked examples relating to each worker’s right to illustrate how the facts apply to the law in particular situations. This post will give a brief overview of the rights of workers relating to the above four categories

Maternity and pregnancy rights

Maternity rights can be broadly (and possibly crudely) divided into:

  • Ante-natal rights
  • Post-natal rights

Ante-natal rights

The five broad rights that mothers during pregnancy and before they give birth:

  • The right to have a risk assessment carried out of the risk that their work poses to women of childbearing age (if no such risk assessment is available)
  • The right to be suspended from work (in limited circumstances relating to health and safety, and night work)
  • The provision of suitable rest facilities (which also accrues for up to 6 months after the birth)
  • The right to go on statutory maternity leave
  • The right to have reasonable time off for ante-natal appointments

Post-natal rights

  • The (compulsory) right to take 2 weeks leave from work after birth
  • The right to reasonable time off to care for dependants (i.e. childcare)

Paternity rights

  • The right to take (limited) paternity leave within 8 weeks of the birth of the father’s child

Adoption rights

  • The right for qualifying employees to take 52 weeks’ adoption leave when they adopt a child

Parental rights

  • The right to take parental leave is limited to particular situations but can last up to 13 weeks in respect of each child (although not more than 4 weeks in any calendar year), or 18 weeks if the child is in receipt of disability living allowance

Time off for dependants

  • Employees have the right to take a reasonable amount of time off work to deal with particular situations affecting their dependants and to make long-term arrangements

There will be a series of posts on Direct 2 Lawyers addressing the nature of these rights and which workers / employees are entitled to them. Worked examples will be used to clarify how the facts apply to the law in any given situation.


The Direct 2 Lawyers Employment Team post daily on interesting employment law cases, Employment Tribunal judgments and Employment Appeal Tribunal judgments. All of the Employment Team posts are written by qualified specialist employment lawyers

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