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Read more articles in: Amanda Hyam, Blog, Employment Law

Mother’s Day reminder of pregnancy and maternity rights

Mother’s Day on Sunday, 27 March is a special day for all the family, as mothers across the country get special treatment.

So, it would be an appropriate time to remember what pregnant women in the workplace are entitled to and their statutory rights, including Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).

When women take time off to have a child, they may be eligible for:

  • Statutory Maternity Leave
  • Statutory Maternity Pay
  • Paid time off for antenatal care

Are employment rights protected?

Yes, employment rights are protected while on Statutory Maternity Leave. This includes the right to:

  • Pay rises
  • Build up (accrue) holiday
  • Return to work

Let the employer know in good time

The process begins with letting the employer know and this should be by the end of the 15th week before the expected date of birth.

What time off is allowed?

Reasonable paid time off is allowed for ante-natal appointments. This could include medical examinations and other appointments, for example, relaxation classes and parent-craft classes.

Expectant fathers and a pregnant woman’s spouse, partner or civil partner are entitled to take time off work but have no statutory right to paid time off.

How much are the payments?

Maternity pay starts as soon as an employee starts maternity leave and some employers offer enhanced maternity pay which can help attract and keep the best employees.

The employee’s contract should state:

  • How much pay they get when on maternity leave
  • How long they get this pay for

The legal minimum for maternity pay

If your business does not offer enhanced maternity pay, it must pay SMP.

During the first six weeks of maternity leave, the Employee must be paid 90 per cent of their average weekly earnings (before tax).

For the next 33 weeks of maternity leave, pay should be whichever of these is lower:

  • £151.97 (£156.66 from 3 April 2022)
  • 90 per cent of their average weekly earnings (before tax)

Employment does not terminate because a woman is taking maternity leave.  You need to continue to allow her to benefit from all the terms and conditions of her employment that she would have enjoyed if she had been at work.

What is Maternity Allowance?

Maternity Allowance is a weekly payment from the government which is available to some women who are pregnant or have just given birth. It’s usually paid if they don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay. It also applies if they:

  • Are self–employed
  • Have recently stopped working
  • Have taken part in unpaid work for the business of a spouse or civil partner

Maternity Allowance is paid for up to 39 weeks.

Women can claim Maternity Allowance as soon as they have been pregnant for 26 weeks. Payments can start up to 11 weeks before the baby is due.

For help and advice on matters relating to employment law, contact our expert team today.

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