07:57 09 June 2009
This is an area that changes quite rapidly, and it's always best to get up-to-date information and advice " and to question anything you're told.
This article also appears on www.bbc.co.uk/parenting/having_a_baby
Your own place of work may be more flexible than the law actually requires, so don't miss out on the chance to tailor your rights to your needs if you can.
"Info:You can't be made redundant, dismissed, or given unfair treatment because of your pregnancy. You can make a claim via an employment tribunal for compensation if you think this has happened."
Sources of information include:
Pregnant women and new parents may be entitled to receive maternity grants, maternity pay (or Maternity Allowance for women not entitled to maternity pay because they have not been with the same employer long enough, are self-employed, or on a low wage), Maternity Leave, Parental Leave, or Child Benefit. See our feature What you are entitled to for more details.
"Info: If you feel your employer is not behaving responsibly with regard to your maternity leave, your local Citizens Advice Bureau can offer support and legal advice. Visit their website to find your nearest bureau."
Basic entitlements are available to all, no matter how long you have been with the same employer and no matter what your hours are. Employees are entitled to paid time off for antenatal care throughout pregnancy, and that includes classes. Pregnant women can claim free prescriptions and free dental care during pregnancy and for a year afterwards. You are also entitled to Child Benefit when your baby is born. Your midwife or doctor should be able to give you the form to apply for these benefits. See our feature What you are entitled to for more information.
You can claim further rights, such as Additional Maternity Leave, if you have worked for the same employer for at least a year and 11 weeks by the week your baby is due. This allows you up to 11 weeks off work before your baby is due, and 29 weeks after the week your baby is born. You have the option of working all or some of the 11 pre-birth weeks if you want to.
"Info: ...basic entitlements are available to all..."
Parental leave " unpaid, so far " is available to all parents, mothers and fathers, who have been with the same employer for a year. For each child, each parent can get a total of 13 weeks off up until the child's fifth birthday. You and your employer should come to an agreement about the length of time you are away on any one occasion. If you have a child with a disability, you can apply for further time off. See our feature What you are entitled to.
It's your choice how you use this leave " you could add some to your maternity leave, if you want.
"Info: If your baby is due on or after 6 April 2003 you can take additional maternity leave of 26 weeks if, 15 weeks before your baby is due, you have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks or more. This means that you can take a year's maternity leave in total."
Are pregnant women less effective because of the way pregnancy affects concentration and memory? No, according to a research team from the Australian National University in Canberra. They discovered no difference between pregnant and non-pregnant women in a range of mental tests. Reaction time, recall and recognition were tested, as well as the skills needed to cope with doing more than one thing at a time. On the contrary, there was evidence that pregnancy improves your brain power.
During pregnancy, early motherhood and breastfeeding, your work must not put your health or your baby's health at risk. Your employer should carry out an assessment of the risks and adjust your hours or conditions if needed. You should be offered a suitable alternative job if it can't be made safe, or else be suspended on full pay.
Returning to work might mean adjusting your hours. You can ask your employer if this is possible, and if it's not, there have to be good reasons for your employer to say no.
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