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Our guide to parental leave rights in Scotland

When considering a new job offer, many of us view the contract as a deal maker or breaker. One area that may be of particular interest to a lot of people is the paternal leave rights section. Whilst all your employee rights are important, if you are planning on starting a family, then this is an area that you should pay particular attention to and be aware of what you are entitled to. Parental leave rights can vary depending on the country and company but keep reading for everything you need to know about your basic employee rights as a new parent in Scotland.

Maternity Leave

As mentioned, your parental leave rights vary depending on who you are and your situation. As new a new parent it is likely that you will want to spent time bonding with your baby and also have some time to recover so it’s a good idea to get familiar with your rights. For most of us when we think of paternal leave, we probably think of maternity leave first so this is where we will begin. As standard, women who have given birth to a baby must take the first two weeks off work and this raises to four weeks for factory workers. As an employee you can take up to 52 weeks maternity leave and this can start 11 weeks before the expected due date. ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’ refers to the first 26 weeks of leave and if you return to work after this point you are entitled to the exact same job as you left. The remaining 26 weeks should you choose to take it is known as ‘Additional Maternity Leave’ in which you still have the right to return to the same position that you had unless it is no longer available in which case you are entitled to a job with the same pay and similar responsibilities.

An important aspect of maternity leave is the pay that you will receive whilst on it so be sure to know the exact details. In Scotland, women are entitled to 90% of their weekly earnings before tax in the first six weeks of leave. After this point, they will be given statutory maternity pay which is around £138.18 per week for 33 weeks.  Of course, you may not wish to take this long off or may want to be off for longer but your entitlements, pay and rights to your old position will depend on the specific company.

Paternity Leave

Fathers in Scotland also have rights to parental leave but the amount of time they can take is much less. Statutory Paternity Leave is available to employees if they are adopting a baby, having one through surrogacy or if their partner has given birth. Your place of work will allow you to take 2 weeks of paid leave at 90% of your usual salary and the time does not have to be taken consecutively as long as it is used within the first 56 days of the child’s birth. Any additional paternity leave will again come down to your specific employer and contract so be sure to speak to your HR department about your rights.

Adoption Leave

If you are adopting a child, you will still be entitled to basic paternal leave rights no matter what company you work for. Similar to maternity leave, employees can again take as much as 52 weeks ‘Statutory Adoption Leave’ which can be divided into ‘Ordinary’ and ‘Additional’ leave. The time period the leave can start varies on your situation as detailed below:

  • 14 days before the child starts to live with you
  • after you have been matched with a child from a UK adoption agency
  • within 28 days of a child arriving in the UK after being adopted overseas
  • the day or day after a child is born by surrogate

As you can see there are several options depending on your situation so it is a good idea to keep your employer as up to date as possible for a smooth transition into your leave.

Shared Paternal Leave

Finally, more and more parents nowadays are sharing the load when it comes to childcare and looking after new born babies and so shared paternal leave is a good option. From April 2015, the option became available for parents to take shared leave within the first year of the baby’s birth and it can be taken in separate blocks which allows for much more flexibility. Again, check with your HR department to get as informed as possible when it comes to shared parental leave options.

For more advice on all aspects of employment law and employee rights in Scotland, get in touch with the team today.