Three quarters of people in the UK do not know that it’s compulsory to take two weeks off work following childbirth, or four weeks if you work in factory.
Those looking to stay engaged with their work and colleagues, and earn money whilst doing it, also have the right to up to ten optional 'keep in touch' (KIT) paid days during their parental leave.
These 'Keep in Touch' days can be a valuable source of additional income for a new parent, yet just a quarter of Brits know that it's an option, potentially leaving millions feeling out of the loop from their work life and colleagues.
Working even just a couple of hours constitutes a KIT day and could include attending a meeting or attending a training course, and employers are expected to pay the normal rate of pay.
Family finances can play a large role when deciding on how much maternity leave a new parent can afford to take.
Despite this, more than half of those asked did not know that when on parental leave, the Government will pay statutory maternity/paternity pay for up to 39 weeks.
How much leave am I entitled to?
Despite statutory maternity/paternity pay only stretching to 39 weeks, everyone in the UK has the right to 52 weeks off after giving birth.
Maternity rights also state that those on maternity leave must receive the same benefits as those at work, including pension contributions.
And while annual leave cannot be taken whilst on maternity leave, two thirds of people aren't aware that you can still accrue holiday whilst on parental leave .
So that's at least an extra 21 days paid on top of the 39 weeks statutory leave.
Jane Morgan, at Direct Line Life Insurance, said: "In the UK, we are fortunate to have rights and entitlements to protect our salaries, working conditions, holidays and return to work during and after maternity and paternity leave.
"It’s alarming that so many of us are unaware of many of the rights that we’re entitled to. If you’re unsure, you should check with your employer about your company’s policy, it is also worth getting in touch with government initiatives such as the Money Advice Service which offers free and impartial advice about maternity and paternity leave.
"When people are in the process of starting a family, it is important to consider the financial protection available to ensure all family members can be supported. Critical illness and life insurance cover provides valuable assistance to meet challenges such as the costs of education and childcare."
Maternity Leave misconceptions – these are your actual rights
You must take 2 weeks’ maternity leave after your baby is born (or 4 weeks if you work in a factory)
Employees can take up to 10 paid 'Keep in Touch' days during their parental leave
You accrue holiday while on parental leave
If you’re in a workplace pension scheme and your employer contributes to it, they must continue to do so while you’re receiving Statutory Maternity/paternity Pay
All employees have the right to 52 weeks maternity leave with the right to return to work
When on parental leave the Government will pay you statutory maternity/paternity pay (SMP) for up to 39 weeks
Employees have the same redundancy rights as their colleagues while on maternity, adoption, paternity or parental leave
You can’t be dismissed for having time off sick because of your pregnancy
You are protected against unfair treatment, unfair dismissal and discrimination because of pregnancy, childbirth and maternity leave
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