maternity leave

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Is the period of time away from work that a woman is entitled to take during and immediately following the birth of her child. Most countries provide a legal entitlement to maternity leave, although the length of time varies from country to country, and some organizations provide enhanced leave beyond the statutory legal minimum. Current UK arrangements were set by the Work and Families Act 2006. This states that all women are entitled to ‘ordinary maternity leave’ of 26 weeks' duration. During this leave, the woman is entitled to the benefit of all the terms of her contract of employment apart from pay and is entitled to return to the job in which she was employed before her absence. ‘Compulsory maternity leave’ covers a period of two weeks immediately after the birth of her child during which a woman must not work for the good of her own health and that of her infant. ‘Additional maternity leave’ of 26 weeks can also be taken by all women, regardless of length of service, hours of work, or level of pay. This means that women in the UK are now entitled to a full year's maternity leave. The contract of employment continues during additional maternity leave, with the exception of pay, but at its end a woman does not have the right to return to the same job. Rather, she is entitled to a job ‘of a prescribed kind’; that is, broadly similar employment. There is also provision for a woman to transfer her second six months of maternity leave to her partner, who can take it as paternity leave. The first three months of paternity leave taken in this way is paid at the statutory rate. [See Statutory Maternity Pay.]

Subjects: Human Resource Management.

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