Maternity and Family Rights

Maternity And Family Legal Employment Rights

It is easy to make mistakes when navigating maternity and family legal employment law rights. As your trusted legal advisor with unrivalled expertise in employment law matters, Wilford Smith Solicitors will provide clear, strategic guidance and representation, ensuring your business is fully compliant with maternity and family employment law legislation.

As a full-service law firm, we will work as a seamless extension of your in-house legal and HR teams, providing extensive legal expertise, support, and guidance. We will limit your risk exposure and help you manage all matters relating to maternity and family employment law issues as cost-effectively and amicably as possible.

Contact us on 0808 164 1349 or complete our online enquiry form to find out how we can help with your matters concerning maternity and family employment law.

In recent decades, the rights held by workers in respect of their family and home life have steadily grown. This is reflected in both the increased number of situations where an employer now has a duty to observe specific minimum rights, as well as in respect of the number of rights that employees have in different workplace situations.

What are maternity and family rights?

Maternity and family rights employment law aims to protect female employees who are pregnant or who have recently given birth, as well as allowing parents to balance work and family life by way of maternity and paternity leave, flexible working and taking time off to care for dependents. These protections can sometimes create issues for employers that require careful and delicate handling. We regularly advise employers across England and Wales on their rights, responsibilities, and obligations in respect of maternity and family rights, including issues such as:

  • The rights of pregnant employees
  • Maternity and paternity leave
  • Maternity and paternity pay
  • Shared parental leave
  • Adoption leave
  • Flexible working requests
  • Parental and emergency leave to care for dependents
  • Part-time working

What are maternity leave periods?

Employees are entitled to maternity leave from the point at which they give birth – this is known as Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML). On returning to work, the employee is entitled to reinstatement to the position they held before going on leave. Beyond the period of OML, there is an additional period called Additional Maternity Leave (AML). If the employee returns to work after OML but during AML, and if it is not reasonably practicable for them to return to their previous job, they may be offered another position.

What is Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)?

The employee will be entitled to statutory maternity pay. To qualify for SMP, the employee must have been working for the employer at the time they became pregnant.

What is Shared Parental Leave (SPL)?

Employees are entitled to replace the maternity leave period with SPL, and to swap Statutory Maternity Pay for Statutory Shared Parental Pay. Both parents can divide periods of leave between them.

Are employees entitled to maternity and paternity leave if they adopt a child?

An employee who adopts or ‘fosters to adopt’ a child is entitled to up to 52 weeks of adoption leave which works the same as maternity leave (see above). An adopting parent is also entitled to statutory adoption pay. If the adopting parents are a couple, the parent not receiving adoption leave and adoption pay may be eligible for paternity leave and pay or shared parental leave and pay.

Why Wilford Smith Solicitors?

Wilford Smith was founded over 30 years ago and is now considered one of the UK’s most prestigious law firms. We have developed a richly deserved reputation for excellence in our core areas of law, including employment and HR. We are more than just a law firm; we are your trusted legal advisor and will be there at every step of your commercial journey. You are never alone. The advice, support, and representation we provide to your business will be tailored to your needs and specific to your industry sector. You can be assured that with our team managing your employment law, maternity and family matters, exceptional outcomes are the norm.

Our employment law teams are based in Sheffield and advise and represent clients throughout England and Wales. Contact us today on 0808 168 5813 to find out how we can help with your employment law, maternity and family matters.




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  • Meadowhall Business Park
  • S9 2EQ
  • Tel: 0808 164 4106
  • Fax: 0844 225 0572


  • Smithy House 22 Westgate,
  • Rotherham S60 1AP
  • Tel: 0808 164 4106
  • Fax: 0844 225 0572


  • 20 Old Bailey
  • LondonEC4M 7AN
  • By appointment only
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2024 Wilford Smith is the trading name of WS Strategic Ltd. a limited company registered in England and Wales, registration number 07777022. Registered office – Meadowhall Business Park, Sheffield S9 2EQ. We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. SRA Registration Number 640898.