Maternity, paternity, and parental leave: what do you need to know?

Understanding legal obligations and best practices related to maternity, paternity, and parental leave is crucial for employers.

You may be feeling uncertain about your legal obligations if you have an employee who needs maternity or paternity leave, so it’s important to take the following into consideration.

Know the law

Stay updated on current laws and regulations regarding leave entitlements, if you are unsure, consult with legal experts to understand your specific obligations.

Put simply, the current rules are as follows:

Maternity leave:

  • Up to 52 weeks total
  • 15 weeks notice to employer
  • Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) varies

Paternity leave:

  • Up to two weeks within 56 days of birth
  • 15 weeks notice to employer
  • Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) varies

Eligibility criteria apply for all types of leave, so it is best to seek legal advice in advance if you are unsure. Couples seeking shared parental leave may need to discuss this in more detail.

Develop a clear policy

Create an easily accessible policy outlining the process, requirements, and support available for employees taking leave.

You should regularly review and update your policy to ensure compliance.

Train managers and HR staff

Equip managers and HR staff to handle leave requests and support employees throughout their leave, including understanding legal requirements, managing workloads, and facilitating a smooth return to work.

Encourage open communication

Promote early communication of leave plans, helping prevent misunderstandings and allowing for better planning and support.

Offer flexibility

Provide flexible working arrangements before and after leave, such as remote working, flexible hours, or part-time options, to help employees balance work and family responsibilities.

Support the return to work

Ease employees’ transition back to work with a phased return, access to training or updates, and regular check-ins to ensure they feel supported and engaged.

Foster an inclusive workplace culture

Promote a supportive culture by raising awareness about the importance of parental leave and encouraging employees to support their colleagues during this time.

For help and advice on matters relating to employment law, contact Uzma Rabi on +44 (0) 20 7240 0521 or at

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Uzma Rabi

Uzma Rabi

Employment Consultant at Mackrell.Solicitors
Uzma is a qualified employment solicitor providing consultancy services to some of the Top 100 firms and international companies. She has previously assisted the likes of Walt Disney, Warner Bros, Adecco and Oyster hr.