Your maternity rights: the lowdown

Paid maternity leave now stands at nine months. Read on for more info...

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For babies due on or after April 1, 2007, there have been some changes to the Work and Families Act, which boost the rights of mothers and fathers. Read on to find out how the changes will affect you.

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The total period of Statutory Maternity pay has been extended to 39 weeks. So if your baby was due on or after 1 April, regardless of when the baby actually arrives, you will get 90% of your salary paid for six weeks, and then a maximum of £108.85 a week for another 33 weeks.

You will also be able to go into work for a total of 10 days during your maternity leave without losing your SMP entitlement. So you will be able to attend things like special training days, without losing your entitlement, which will allow you to keep up to date with any changes in working practices. Plus, the period of notice if you want to return to work from maternity leave has been extended to two months (56 days) from the previous 28 days.

Anything else in the new Act?

SMP is now calculated on a daily, rather than a weekly basis, to allow mums to work a few days while on maternity leave, without losing a whole week’s money.

The Government plans to increase paid maternity leave again, to one year, by the end of the current parliament.

What about dads?

Currently fathers can claim two weeks Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) at £108.85 a week, or 90% of their average weekly earnings – whichever is the least, and it can be taken from the date of baby’s birth, or up to eight weeks from the birth. To qualify the man must have worked for his employer for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is due, and earn more than £84 a week. He must notify his employer of the date he wants to start paternity leave in the 15th week before the baby is due.

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The new Act allows for the Government to introduce a right for fathers to request up to 26 weeks unpaid paternity leave.

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