Allowing time off work

Statutory time off work for parental reasons


Employees, or agency workers who have worked for 12 continuous weeks in the same job with the same hirer, who are pregnant, new mothers and adoptive parents - and the partners of such employees - may be entitled to statutory time off around the birth or adoption of their child. Some of this time off is paid if the employee qualifies.

Time off for antenatal care and maternity leave

An employee who becomes pregnant is entitled to:

  • paid time off during working hours for antenatal care before maternity leave begins
  • be suspended on full pay before maternity leave begins if her job poses a risk to her and/or her unborn baby and there is not suitable alternative work for her
  • 52 weeks' statutory maternity leave (SML)

She is entitled to statutory maternity pay for the first 39 weeks of SML - but only if she meets certain qualifying criteria.

For more information, see pregnancy at work and maternity leave and pay.

Time off for antenatal care - partner

Since 5 April 2015, employees who are the husband or partner (including same sex partner) of a pregnant woman, or are the father of the expected child, or either of the intended parents who are expecting a child from a surrogate mother and who are eligible for and intend to apply for a Parental Order (or have obtained such an Order), are entitled to take unpaid time off work to accompany the pregnant woman to up to two of her antenatal appointments.

The time off is capped at 6.5 hours for each appointment. No qualifying service is required.

Adoption leave

If they meet certain qualifying criteria, an employee when adopting a child is entitled to:

  • 52 weeks' statutory adoption leave
  • 39 weeks' statutory adoption pay

For more information, see adoption leave and pay.

See also employers' maternity, paternity and adoption calculator.

Time off - pre-adoption appointments

From 5 April 2015, employees who are the primary adopter of a child are entitled to paid time off to attend five appointments after being notified of a match for adoption.

Also from this date, employees who are secondary adopters are entitled to unpaid time off to attend two appointments after being notified of a match for adoption. This is capped at 6.5 hours for each appointment. No qualifying service applies.

Note that in Northern Ireland, in exceptional cases, time off for pre-adoption appointments may also be granted where an adoption agency intends to place a child with approved foster parents who are also approved prospective adopters.

The agency will supply the foster parents with correspondence which can be shown to the employer explaining that they have met the relevant criteria for being matched with the child for the purposes of taking time off, as well as, and other entitlements open to adopters.

Paternity leave

If they meet certain qualifying criteria, an employee who is the partner of either a new mother or a main adoptive parent is entitled to:

  • take a single block of either one week or two consecutive weeks' paternity leave on the birth or adoption of the child
  • one or two weeks' statutory paternity pay

Read more on paternity leave and pay.

Shared parental leave

Eligible employees can take shared parental leave.

Read more on shared parental leave and pay.

Parental leave

An employee who is a parent is entitled to take 18 weeks' unpaid parental leave. The leave must be taken before the child's 18th birthday and employees can take a maximum of four weeks' leave in any year in respect of any individual child.

To qualify for parental leave, the employee must have at least one year's continuous service with you at the time they wish to take the leave.

For more information, see parental leave and time off for dependants.