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Factsheet:

Maternity, paternity and adoption rights

Resource summary

This factsheet was last updated in August 2016.

The context for maternity, paternity and adoption rights

Women employees In the UK have had statutory maternity rights for many years. Since April 2003, fathers and adoptive parents also have statutory rights to paternity leave and adoption leave. These rights also apply within partnerships of the same sex, so references in this factsheet to father, male employee, men, he, him, etc, should be taken as including women in same sex partnerships.

As well as maternity, paternity and adoption rights, there are other important 'family-friendly' measures, including the right to unpaid parental leave, the right to time off for emergencies involving dependents and the right to request flexible working. See our factsheets on flexible working and hours of work and time off for more information on some of these issues.

The legal position

Most of the relevant legislation can be found consolidated into the Employment Rights Act 1996, the Employment Relations Act 1999, the Employment Act 2002 and the Work and Families Act 2006. Shared parental leave (SPL) arrangements contained in the Children and Families Act 2014 apply to parents whose babies were due, or who had children placed for adoption, on or after 5 April 2015.

CIPD members can find out more detail on shared parental leave and all aspects of maternity, paternity and adoption leave and pay, and other changes, in our law FAQs.

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  • The context for maternity, paternity and adoption rights
  • Maternity rights
  • Paternity rights
  • Shared parental leave
  • Adoption rights
  • Guidance for employers
  • CIPD viewpoint
  • Useful contacts
  • Further reading

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