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Family friendly rights

Dad with baby

As a co-op business, you need to understand the rights your people have in regards to maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave – and we’ve explained them for you here.

Paid statutory leave

Working parents have the right to take the following types of paid leave:

  • Statutory maternity leave
  • Statutory adoption leave
  • Statutory paternity leave
  • Shared parental leave

Eligibility criteria apply. Watch our short video giving an overview of all of these:

Remote video URL


Pregnant workers are protected from unfair treatment, discrimination and dismissal. Your co-op must remove any health and safety risks within the workplace or features of the role that may harm your worker or her baby. You must also allow your employee paid time off to attend antenatal appointments. Partners are entitled to attend two appointments unpaid.

Maternity leave

A pregnant employee must confirm her due date and maternity leave start date at least 15 weeks before the baby is due. She can take up to 52 weeks of Statutory Maternity Leave. It’s compulsory to take two weeks’ maternity leave (four weeks in a factory) immediately after the baby is born. The earliest maternity leave can start is 11 weeks before the expected week of birth. It starts automatically when:

  • The baby is early (starting the day following the birth).
  • The employee is off sick with a pregnancy related illness, in the four weeks before the week of the baby’s expected birth.
A mother with two young children

Pay and leave

Click on the links below to find out what leave and pay parents are entitled to

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is paid for up to 39 weeks to eligible employees. Find out more on the website. The employer must pay:

  • 90% of average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first six weeks.

  • £151.20* or 90% of average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks.

Tax and national insurance should be deducted and wages paid on the normal payroll date.

*Rates change each year – check for the current rate of statutory payments.

When a child is adopted, an adoptive parent can take up to 52 weeks Statutory Adoption Leave. Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) is set at the same level as Statutory Maternity Pay.

The main adopter is entitled to take paid time off for up to five adoption appointments. The secondary adopter is entitled to take unpaid time off for up to two appointments.

Within seven days of being matched, your employee must give your co-op details about the adoption, and the date when they wish to start adoption leave. 28 days’ notice should be given prior to receipt of adoption pay.

Adoption leave can also be taken by someone who is having a baby through surrogacy.

If your employee is adopting with their partner, only one of them may take statutory adoption leave. The partner not taking adoption leave may be entitled to statutory paternity leave and pay (see below). Find out more on the website.

Employees are entitled to take Statutory Paternity Leave of up to two weeks when their partner is having a baby or adopting a child. Paternity leave must be taken within 56 days of birth. Statutory Paternity Pay is set at £151.20* or 90% of average weekly earnings. For eligibility requirements, see the website.

*Rates change each year – check for the current rate of statutory payments.

In 2015, Shared Parental Leave was introduced for parents wanting to share the care of their child during maternity or adoption. Parents must meet the eligibility requirements found on the website.

 Unlike maternity or adoption leave, parents can choose to take consecutive periods of leave, take leave at the same time as their partner, or take up to three separate blocks of leave. Shared Parental Leave must be taken within one year of the date of birth or adoption of the child. Employees must give eight weeks’ notice of their intention to start their leave. Where an employee wishes to take separate blocks of leave, an employer has the right to suggest an alternative pattern.

Shared Parental Leave Pay is set at the rate of £151.20* or 90% of average earnings (whichever is lower) for up to 39 weeks. If an employee’s partner ends maternity or adoption leave and pay early, they can opt to share the remaining 52 weeks leave and remaining 39 weeks of pay. 

*Rates change each year – check for the current rate of statutory payments.

During leave, an employee’s employment rights are protected – and holiday continues to accrue throughout the leave period.


After 26 weeks, employees have the right to return to their existing job, or a job on the same or better terms.

Where maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave has lasted for less than 26 weeks, an employee has the right to return to their existing job.

Parents have the right to take up to 18 weeks of unpaid leave up until their child’s 18th birthday (a maximum of four weeks per year) provided that the purpose of the leave is to look after their child’s welfare. See for more information. 

Parents who lose a child under the age of 18, or have a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy, are entitled to up to two weeks of statutory parental bereavement leave. Statutory parental bereavement pay is set at £151.20* or 90% of earnings (whichever is lower). For more information and eligibility requirements, see the website

*Rates change each year – check for the current rate of statutory payments.

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