Pregnancy and maternity

Pregnancy and maternity

Download Prospect's guide on maternity rights.

We want all members to have the opportunity to develop themselves and achieve in their working lives while successfully balancing home and work.

We have made formal submissions to the government setting out our policies on work and parents. We have identified the following three priorities:

  • Enhanced maternity leave and paternity/maternity support leave with pay, enabling parents to spend valuable time with their baby. This would benefit the health and well-being of parents as well as their babies
  • Rights for both parents and carers to work reduced or flexible hours, encouraging a balance between home and work responsibilities. This should be a statutory right, since it has been shown that voluntary practices do not work
  • Paid parental leave and shared parental leave with flexible implementation, also allowing parents to balance home and work responsibilities.

The law

All women are entitled to:

  • 52 weeks’ maternity leave
  • statutory maternity pay
  • paid time off work to attend ante-natal sessions.

Adoptive parents have similar entitlements. Men and women are entitled to:

  • shared parental leave and pay (the mother’s partner can share the statutory leave and pay)
  • time off to care for dependants in exceptional circumstances
  • return to the same or (in some cases) similar job after maternity or parental leave
  • 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave for children aged up to 18 but only after one year’s continuous employment
  • two weeks’ paternity/partner leave and statutory paternity pay.

Shared parental leave: The provisions under the Children and Families Act introducing shared parental leave and pay came into effect on 1 December 2014. The provisions will apply for children born or adopted on or after 5 April 2015.

Shared parental leave will enable eligible parents to share up to 50 weeks’ leave and will allow them flexibility to decide whether they take it in turns to take the time off to look after the child or to be off work at the same time.

The amount of paid leave available mirrors the statutory maternity leave arrangements: ie, 39 weeks available at the statutory minimum pay and 13 weeks’ unpaid leave – less the two weeks’ compulsory leave directly following the birth/adoption.

Our guidance

Prospect has produced a member’s guide to maternity rights, as well as a members’ guide to parental and family leave.

To qualify for shared parental leave, complex eligibility criteria and notification requirements must be met, which we cover in an equality briefing

Prospect has produced guidance for negotiators and representatives on alternative working patterns available that contribute to good work-life balance policies, including good practice checklists and examples of where the policies work well.

We have also produced guidance on the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees ­– whether this is a change in working hours, working patterns or their work location ­–­­ for any reason at all.

Our guidance on flexible working and work-life balance has been brought together into a model policy to assist negotiators and representatives.

Public resources for pregnancy and maternity

Please let us know if any of the links on this page are not working by emailing so that we can either remove or fix them where possible.

Prospect resources for equality and diversity

Prospect provides advice and guidance on a range of equalities issues, which can be accessed under the Resources tab in the left-hand navigation menu. This includes links to guides, posters and leaflets etc.