In 1999 we extended maternity leave for all employed women from 14 weeks to 18 weeks. The qualifying service for additional maternity leave was reduced to one year. Previously qualifying service was two years for women working at least 16 hours per week or five years for women working between eight and sixteen hours per week.
Leave was further simplified and extended in April 2003. All employed women are now entitled to 26 weeks' ordinary maternity leave. Women with six months qualifying service are able to take a further 26 weeks' additional maternity leave.
The right to paid paternity leave was introduced in April 2003. Eligible fathers can choose to take one or two weeks' paternity leave in the first eight weeks after their child is born.