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Pregnant women have the right to time off for antenatal appointments, to take maternity leave of up to 52 weeks, to breastfeed at work and to take time off to look after their children.

Women also have the right to return to the same job after maternity leave and protection from dismissal or other unfavourable treatment, as well as other rights and protections. Parents who are adopting have similar rights and protections.

Qualifying partners and parents have the right to take shared parental leave following, for example, the birth of their child.

How am I protected?

An employer is required to ensure that a pregnant women is working in a safe and suitable environment and is prohibited from treating that women unfavourably. The law protects against discrimination connected to pregnancy, maternity, paternity and other leave related to new parents.

Where a women returning from maternity leave is unable to return to the job that she left, due to redundancy for example, she is required to be given a suitable alternative role. This includes giving her preferential treatment over colleagues.

How can I enforce my rights?

If you believe that you have been treated badly as a result of your pregnancy, maternity leave, paternity leave or similar, you may choose to raise a grievance or commence legal action. We recommend seeking advice at the earliest opportunity.

Need further advice?

Please get in touch with our specialist Employment Team.

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