All female employees are entitled to 26 weeks Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML) whatever their length of service or hours. You have the right to return to exactly the same job after your OML.
If you have 26 week's service (at the 14th week before the expected week of childbirth), you will also be entitled to Additional Maternity Leave (AML). This extends maternity leave for a further 26 weeks starting from the end of OML. The total period of maternity leave is one year.
Your leave can start at any time after the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth. It is up to you to decide when you start your maternity leave, so long as the start date is after the 11th week before your due date. The latest maternity leave can start is the date your baby is born. You count your 26 weeks from the date you start your leave
The right to paid paternity leave was introduced in April 2003. It is the right to be "absent from work for the purpose of caring for a child or supporting the child's mother".
Working families is a charity set to up to help people achieve a better work-life balance. They offer advice on a wide range of issues, including flexible working, paternity leave, and consultation for parents returning to work. For further information visit their website Working Families: Changing the way we live and work.