Finding out a new baby is expected is a really happy and exciting moment. There’s lots to think about including how maternity and paternity leave will work for the family so as a follow on from last month’s blog about other statutory payments, we thought we’d look at payments available for new parents.

This is just a brief overview so it’s a good idea to check more specific details if either the employer or employee is unsure – we are always happy to help.

Statutory Maternity Leave & Pay

Statutory Maternity Leave is 52 weeks long; 26 weeks is called Ordinary Leave and the other 26 weeks is called Additional Leave. Employees don’t have to take all 52 weeks – the only leave they must take is 2 weeks after the baby is born or 4 weeks if they work in a factory.

They can also choose to start your maternity leave when they want but it can’t be earlier than 11 weeks before the baby is due.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is payable for up to 39 weeks. For the first 6 weeks, an employee will receive 90% of their average weekly earnings and then for the subsequent 33 weeks, the rate is £156.66 or 90% of the average, whichever is the lower amount. Employers are able to supplement SMP and the amounts and duration of that should be detailed in the Maternity Leave policy.

Legislation is currently going through parliament to extend maternity leave and pay if their baby is born premature – the proposal is that parents will get an extra week’s support for every week their baby is in neonatal care, up to 12 weeks.

Statutory Paternity Leave & Pay

Fathers are also entitled to take Statutory Paternity Leave (SPL) when their baby is born. They can either take 1 or 2 weeks leave starting from when the baby arrives.

The pay rates for SPL is the same as for SMP and employers can supplement the rate as with SMP depending what’s in their SPL policy.

Statutory Adoption Leave & Pay

If you are adopting a child, Statutory Adoption Leave (SAP) can be claimed. It is the same as SMP in terms of the rates and duration. Only 1 person in a partnership can get SAP although the benefits of Shared Parental Leave are also available to adoptive parents.

Shared Parental Leave

Parents can choose to share up to 50 weeks of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) after their baby is born and claim up to 37 weeks of Shared Parental Pay (ShPP).

SPL is triggered when the mother opts to stop her SML early and the balance of that is then allocated to Shared Parental Leave. For example, if the mother chooses to finish her maternity leave after 6 weeks, that leaves 46 weeks available for Shared Parental Leave and 33 weeks of Shared Parental Pay. Both parents can then split that time and pay between them either by taking time off at the same time or separately. For the father, Shared Parental Leave is over and above Statutory Paternity Leave.

Same sex couples

Same sex new parents are entitled to the same benefits as they welcome a new member to their family. The statutory leave may be a combination of maternity, paternity (or more properly the partner who hasn’t given birth), shared parental or even adoption leave – again it is best for the couple to discuss things with their employers to reach an arrangement that suits everyone.