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What are your rights at work as a new parent based on employment status?

Rights and protections vary depending on employment status and length of service. You may be an employee, self-employed or you could fall into the category of a worker or agency worker which affords you certain rights but not the full package of rights afforded to employees. 

Workplace rights as a worker musician

If you are a w​orker you are entitled to:

Workplace rights as an agency worker musician

If you are an agency worker with at least 12 weeks continuous employment with the same employer, you are entitled to the same rights above as workers as well as:

  • Time off for antenatal care, and
  • The right to be offered a suitable alternative job or to be suspended on full pay for health and safety reasons.

Workplace rights as an employee musician

If you are a musician working as an employee you are entitled to the same rights above as agency workers as well as:

  • Maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave and shared parental leave
  • Paid time off for antenatal care including time needed to travel to your clinic or GP, without loss of pay. Fathers, wives and partners are entitled to unpaid time off to attend up to two antenatal appointments (maximum of 6.5 hours per appointment)
  • The main adopter has the right to take reasonable paid time off work to attend up to five adoption placement meetings. The adopter’s husband, wife or partner has the right to take unpaid time off to attend up to two adoption placement meetings. Time off is capped at 6.5 hours per meeting
  • Full health and safety protection
  • The right to ask for flexible work (changes to your hours, days and place of work)

Workplace rights as a self-employed musician

If you are self-employed musician you are are entitled to:

  • Basic health and safety protection if you are working on someone else’s premises
  • Maternity Allowance (if you meet the qualifying conditions)
  • Protection from discrimination

Discrimination at work based on pregnancy, childbirth or maternity leave

It's against the law for your employer to treat you unfairly, dismiss you or select you for redundancy for any reason connected with pregnancy, childbirth or maternity leave.

All employees, casual workers, agency workers, freelancers and contractors are protected by discrimination law from day one of their employment.

If you are a musician and a member of the MU, you can talk about discrimination at work in more detail with Musicians' Union.

Contact the MU

The guidance pack on maternity, parental and adoption workplace rights was designed in conjunction with Maternity Action to provide musicians with information about your rights at work as set out under the Equality Act 2010.

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General Secretary Naomi Pohl stands in discussion outside of the Royal Opera House

2023 End of Year Round Up

MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl reports back on the work that the Union has done through 2023, as well as setting out some of MU’s intentions for 2024, and more general food for thought about the music industry.

Published: 30 December 2023

Read more about 2023 End of Year Round Up

Contact the Musicians' Union today

The MU has a network of experienced teams available to help musicians in all areas of the industry. If you have any questions about our services, membership or how the MU could help you, please don't hesitate to get in touch.