There’s so much you have to consider whilst parenting and raising a child, right from birth all the way up until they turn into a fully-fledged adult. We therefore could forgive you if there are one or two things that you occasionally forget.
However, you’ll be happy to know, that not only are you legally protected (making big decisions easier) for many situations during your child’s early life, but also that Superprof has handily listed some of them here for you!
Parental rights and responsibilities are generally covered by two statutes in the UK: the Children and Young Persons Act (1933) and the Children Act (1989). Some explicitly recognised rights include the following:
* A right to maternity leave. Women in the UK are entitled to 52 weeks off, though they need to inform their employers of their intention to take maternity leave by the 15th week before their due date. Women are also entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from their employer (or a Maternity Allowance from the Social Security) for 39 weeks. Those on SMP receive 90 per cent of their average weekly pay for the first six weeks and a flat rate (£112.75) for the last 33 weeks. Men (married, unmarried or same sex partners) have a right to two week’s paid paternity leave, provided they have been employed for at least 26 weeks at the 15th week prior to the mother’s due date.
* The right to make decisions regarding their children’s education. In England and Wales, section 7 of the Education Act of 1996 requires parents to provide “full-time education” for their children, though the parents are allowed to decide where and how that education takes place, and what subjects to teach their children; parents are legally entitled to homeschool their children in England, Wales and Northern Ireland without prior consent, while in Scotland, consent is required from local authorities.
* A right to select the school children attend. The Children’s Services (CS) must admit a parent’s wishes unless specific circumstances are present – for instance, if admittance would exceed the limit on class size determined by the Secretary of State or if the school is tied to a particular belief which is not relevant to the child (e.g. if the school is a Catholic school and the child is not Catholic).
* The right to consent to medical treatment or not for their children, provided the latter are under 16 and not mature enough to fully understand what is involved. The government can withdraw this right from parents in order to protect the interests of the child (for instance, when physicians determine that a blood transfusion or diagnostic test is necessary to save the life of a child). This is the case even when such tests or treatments may conflict with the parents’ religion or beliefs.
* A right to sufficient childcare if the parents are working, especially if they come from low-income families or have children with special needs. Every three- and four-year-old child is entitled to free early education for at least two and a half hours every day of the working week.
* A right to obtain a court order to insist that a child under 16 who has left home, return to the family. This does not entitle parents to physically restrain children to stop them from running away.
* A right to request free lunch for children if parents are on income support, income-based Jobseekers Allowance, support within part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act (1999) or Child Tax Credit (provided parents do not also receive a Working Tax Credit and have an annual income of no more than approximately £14,495).
* A right to decide when children are ready to be out on their own, walk to school alone, etc.
* A right to keep contact with a child even the event of divorce or separation from the spouse/partner who resides with the child.
Obviously in some cases listed here you would hope to never have to use those rights. However, it can be a comfort to know that if something happened you could legally make what you felt was the right decision for your child’s safety. Who wouldn’t feel relieved?