Like most websites, this site uses cookies. To find out more about what cookies are, and how they are used on this website, go to our Privacy Policy. If you continue to use this site, we will assume that you are happy with the website's use of cookies.

Maternity, Adoption and Parental Rights

Your Rights as a New Parent

It is against the law for your employer to treat you unfairly, dismiss you or select you for redundancy for any reason connected with pregnancy, childbirth or maternity leave.

All employees, casual workers, agency workers, freelancers and contractors are protected by discrimination law from day one of their employment.

Rights and protections vary depending on employment status and length of service.  You may be an employee, self-employed or you could fall into the category of a worker or agency worker which affords you certain rights but not the full package of rights afforded to employees. 

Employment Status

If you are a worker you are entitled to:

  • Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (if you meet the qualifying conditions),
  • Basic health and safety protection, and
  • Protection from discrimination.

If you are an agency worker with at least 12 weeks continuous employment with the same employer, you are entitled to the same rights above as workers as well as:

  • Time off for antenatal care, and
  • The right to be offered a suitable alternative job or to be suspended on full pay for health and safety reasons.

If you are an employee you are entitled to the same rights above as agency workers as well as:

  • Maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave and shared parental leave,
  • Paid time off for antenatal care including time needed to travel to your clinic or GP, without loss of pay. Fathers, wives and partners are entitled to unpaid time off to attend up to two antenatal appointments (maximum of 6.5 hours per appointment).
  • The main adopter has the right to take reasonable paid time off work to attend up to five adoption placement meetings. The adopter’s husband, wife or partner has the right to take unpaid time off to attend up to two adoption placement meetings. Time off is capped at 6.5 hours per meeting.
  • Full health and safety protection,
  • The right to ask for flexible work (changes to your hours, days and place of work)

If you are self-employed you are entitled to:

  • Basic health and safety protection if you are working on someone else’s premises
  • Maternity Allowance (if you meet the qualifying conditions)
  • Protection from discrimination.

For advice on your employment status, please contact your MU Regional Office.

The Equalities Toolkit has been developed in conjunction with Maternity Action.

Maternity Action Logo