Maternity vs Paternity Rights

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Julian Cole

Senior Solicitor

Phone 01264 353411


Maternity vs paternity rights

Both partners have certain statutory holiday rights when having a child. This applies in both birth and adoption scenarios, and in most cases maternity and paternity rights both guarantee a certain amount of paid leave.


Maternity leave

New mothers are entitled to up to 52 weeks' statutory maternity leave. This can begin any time after 11 weeks before the expected due date. New mothers are legally required to take a minimum of two weeks' leave immediately after the birth of the baby or four weeks if they work in a factory.

To qualify for statutory maternity pay (SMP), you must have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks up to and including the 15th week before the baby is due, which is 40 weeks before the due date in total. You must also earn at least £112 per week. SMP can be claimed for up to 39 weeks at 90% of your weekly wage for six weeks and £139.58 or the same 90%, whichever is lower, for the remaining 33 weeks. If you don't meet these requirements, Maternity Allowance can be claimed through the Job Centre.


Paternity leave

 Paternity Leave is 1-2 weeks after the baby is born and is paid at the same rate of £139.58/week or 90% of wages.


Shared parental leave

For any baby born after 5th April 2015, couples can take Shared Parental Leave and Pay. Essentially this means that after the mother has taken her compulsory 2-4 weeks leave, she can choose to share her remaining maternity leave with her partner.

Whether you take maternity or paternity leave, your employment rights are protected for the duration and you are entitled to return to the same job on the same terms as when you took leave. It is illegal to discriminate against an employee on the grounds of their having a baby.

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