Maternity & Family-Related Rights

Maternity & Family-Related Rights

There is a complex and ever-changing legal framework that combats discrimination in the workplace and protects staff who need to take time off work for family related reasons, e.g. maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave, adoption leave or time off for tdependants.

Our top-ranked employment lawyers are able to give day-to-day advice to businesses on issues that can arise in relation to maternity and family-related matters, such as:

  • Ensuring that the correct arrangements are in place for an employee going on maternity leave
  • Dealing with absence caused by pregnancy-related illness
  • Responding to grievances raised during pregnancy and during or on  return from maternity
  • Dealing with flexible working requests

Employment Contracts, Policies and Staff Handbooks

Given the frequent changes in the law around family related rights it is vitally important to have in place up-to-date employment contracts, a staff handbook, HR policies and procedures that not only comply with the law but are also consistent with each other.

Our highly experienced team advises businesses to create and implement compliant but commercially-focused family-related HR policies, including:

  • Maternity leave
  • Shared parental leave
  • Paternity leave
  • Adoption leave
  • Time off for dependants
  • Flexible working
  • Equal opportunities

We also work with businesses to ensure their policies and practices are not inadvertently discriminatory, including recruitment and redundancy policies.

Staff Training

Even if the wording of an employer’s HR policies and procedures are non-discriminatory, there is a significant risk of employee grievances and potential Employment Tribunal claims if those policies are not applied correctly and consistently. We have a wealth of experience in training management on family-related issues to ensure that your business has the best possible protection.

Employment Tribunal Litigation

Our top-ranked team of employment lawyers is highly experienced in advising businesses threatened with legal action by a member of staff relating to a family-related issue. We have an excellent track record of achieving favourable outcomes for businesses either in the Employment Tribunal, or through confidential settlement agreements.

Joelson is located in Central London and supports employers throughout London and the UK. We are a team of dynamic, experienced and forward-thinking employment solicitors.

Maternity Rights and Protection

We routinely deal with questions arising from maternity leave and associated issues such as flexible working and redundancy. Typical questions include:

Can I Make Staff Redundant Whilst On Maternity Leave?

A woman on maternity leave can still be considered for redundancy but special provisions do apply. If there is a suitable alternative vacancy (a vacancy that is suitable, appropriate and not substantially less favourable than the employee’s previous job) and the employer fails to offer it to the employee, any dismissal would be automatically unfair.

Does the Returning  Employee Have The Right To Return To The Same Position After Maternity Leave?

An employee returning to work after ordinary maternity leave is entitled to return to the job in which she was employed before her absence, with her seniority, pension rights and similar rights had she not been absent. However, the position is slightly different when returning from additional leave. Where it is not reasonably practicable for reasons other than redundancy for an employer to permit the employee to return to her old job after taking  additional maternity leave, the employer can offer her another job which is both suitable for her and appropriate for her to do in the circumstances.

Do  I Have To Agree To Requests For Flexible Working?

An employer must deal with the request according to a set procedure, including a meeting and right of appeal (unless the request is agreed to straight away).  A request can be refused on a number of grounds including the burden of additional costs, detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand, inability to reorganise work among existing staff, inability to recruit additional staff, detrimental impact on quality or performance, insufficiency of work during the time the employee proposes to work or planned structural changes.

However, even if the request is rejected on this basis, there can still be a claim for indirect sex discrimination as the provision, criterion or practice of full time working, although applying to men and women, may arguably have a more detrimental impact on women.

Does Holiday Pay Continue During Maternity Leave?

Paid annual leave, both contractual and statutory, which would normally accrue while the employee was still at work should continue to accrue during her statutory maternity leave.

Is The Employee Entitled To The Same Terms and Conditions During Maternity Leave?

The employee on maternity leave is entitled to the same terms and conditions of employment which would have applied if she had not been absent, and she is bound by the obligations arising under the terms. The only exception is the right to receive remuneration, unless her contract states that she will continue to be paid during her statutory maternity leave.  What amounts to remuneration is not straightforward. Benefits that have a transferable cash allowance such as car allowance should also be treated as remuneration. An employee should continue to receive non-cash benefits throughout maternity leave except those items that are provided solely for business use.

The question of whether a bonus will be due during maternity leave is complicated and legal advice should always be taken.

Joelson is experienced in helping employers deal with family related issues.

If you need advice on a family rights issue please contact Jennifer Maxwell-Harris, employment partner, on 020 7580 5721.


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