chapter 6 section 5
New mothers and fathers Women who are expecting a baby have a legal right to time off work for antenatal care. They are also entitled to at least 26 weeks’ maternity leave. These rights apply to full-time and part-time workers and it makes no difference how long the woman has worked for her employer. It is, however, important to follow the correct procedures and to give the employer enough notice about taking maternity leave. Some women may also be entitled to maternity pay but this depends on how long they have been working for their employer.
Fathers who have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks are entitled to paternity leave, which provides up to two weeks’ time off from work, with pay, when the child is born. It is important to tell your employer well in advance.
You can get advice and more information on maternity and paternity matters from the personnel officer at work, your trade union representative, your local Citizens Advice Bureau, the Citizens Advice Bureau website www.adviceguide.org.uk or the government website www.direct.gov.uk .
Childcare It is Government policy to help people with childcare responsibilities to take up work. Some employers can help with this. The ChildcareLink website www.childcarelink.gov.uk gives information about different types of childcare and registered childminders in your area, or telephone 08000 96 02 96.
Hours and time for children at work In the UK there are strict laws to protect children from exploitation and to make sure that work does not get in the way of their education. The earliest legal age for children to do paid work is 13, although not all local authorities allow this. There are a few exceptions for some types of performance work (including modelling) when younger children may be allowed to work. Any child under school leaving age (16) seeking to do paid work must apply for a licence for the local authority. Children taking part in some kinds of performances may have to obtain a medical certificate before working
By law, children under 16 can only do light work. There are particular jobs that children are not allowed to do. These include delivering milk, selling alcohol, cigarettes or medicines, working in a kitchen or behind the counter of a chip shop, working with dangerous machinery or chemicals, or doing any other kind of work that may be harmful to their health or education
The law sets out clear limits for the working hours and times for 13-16 year-old children. Every child must have at least two consecutive weeks a year during the school holidays when they do not work. They cannot work:
• for more than 4 hours without a one hour rest break
• for more than 2 hours on any school day or a Sunday
• more than five hours (13-14 years old) or eight hours (15-16 years old) on Saturdays (or weekdays during school holidays)
• before 7.a.m. or after 7.p.m.
• before the close of school hours (except in areas where local bylaws allow children to work one hour before school).
• for more than 12 hours in any school week.
• for more than 25 hours a week (13-14 years old) or 35 hours a week (15-16 years old) during school holidays.
There is no national minimum wage for those under 16.
The local authority may withdraw a child’s licence to work, for example where a child works longer hours than the law allows. The child would then be unable to continue to work. An employer may be prosecuted for illegally employing a child. A parent or carer who makes a false declaration in a child’s licence application can also be prosecuted. They may also be prosecuted if they do not ensure their child receives a proper education. You can find more information on the TUC website, www.worksmart.org.uk .