Know your rights - Maternity and Paternity


Apprentices have the same maternity/paternity rights as employees. Apprentices are protected under the Equality Act 2010 against unfavourable treatment on the grounds of pregnancy and maternity leave. The Equality Act applies to both institutes providing higher or further education as well as Universities. Your employer has a duty under the equality act to make sure that you are treated fairly.

Pregnant employees have 4 main legal rights:

- paid time off for antenatal care

- maternity leave

- maternity pay or maternity allowance

- protection against unfair treatment

Rights at work during pregnancy

Antenatal care - Apprentices have the right to take reasonable time off for antenatal appointments including travel time without loss of pay. You should notify your employer for each antenatal appointment as soon as possible. Your employer can ask to see your antenatal card and a certificate stating you are pregnant for all appointments. The father or pregnant persons partner has the right to unpaid time off work to go to two antenatal appointments.

Antenatal care can include parentcraft and relaxation classes. You may need a letter to show your employer saying that these classes are part of antenatal care. Please note each employers policy may vary, please check your own Maternity/Paternity policy.

Health and Safety at work

If you are pregnant, have recently given birth or are breast feeding, your employer and GET must make sure that the kind of work you do and your working conditions will not put your health or your babies health at risk. This may include adapting your job role if your current role is no longer suitable. To get full protection you must notify your employer in writing before the 15th week of your babies due date.

Risks could be caused by:

- heavy lifting or carrying

- standing or sitting for long periods without adequate breaks

- exposure to toxic substances

- long working hours

The employer should suspend the employee on full pay if they cannot remove the risks. If you believe your employer is not removing risks you can speak with GET or your Trade Union representative.

Maternity/paternity leave and pay entitlement

Eligible learners can take up to 52 weeks maternity leave, the first 26 weeks is classed as 'ordinary maternity leave' and the last 26 weeks are classed as 'additional maternity leave'. The earliest that leave can be taken is 11 weeks before the expected week of child birth unless the baby is born early.

If you do not choose to take Statutory Maternity Leave you must at least take 2 weeks off after the baby is born or 4 weeks if you work in a factory.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

SMP for eligible learners can be paid for up to 39 weeks, usually as follows:

- the first 6 weeks: 90% of your average weekly earnings before tax

- the remaining 33 weeks is £140.98 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower)

Go on to and use the SMP calculator to work out your maternity allowance.

You are entitled to SMP if you have been employed by the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (around 26th week of pregnancy). Please check your companies policy as some may vary.

Paternity entitlement

When you take time off because your partner is having a baby, adopting a child or having a baby through surrogacy arrangement you might be eligible for:

- one or two weeks paid Paternity leave

- Shared Paternity leave

Please be aware you may not receive both pay and leave.

If you do become pregnant during your apprenticeship GET can suspend your learning until you return to work.