Settlement Agreements and Maternity Rights

Your employment rights are protected when on statutory maternity leave; however with the myriad of different rules and separate regimes maternity rights and pay can become a minefield in which there is much confusion.

The protection for pregnant employees is founded upon four principle rights; paid time off for antenatal care, statutory maternity leave, statutory maternity pay and protection against unfair treatment, discrimination or dismissal.

All employees are entitled to take up to 52 weeks maternity leave regardless of their length of service. This is made up of 26 weeks Ordinary Maternity Leave (“OML”) and 26 weeks Additional Maternity Leave “(AML”). All employees must take 2 weeks compulsory maternity leave after they give birth before they return to work.

In order to take maternity leave the employee has obligations under which they must inform their employer. An employee does not have to inform her employer that she is pregnant until the 15th week before the Expected Week of Childbirth (“EWC”). The earliest an employee may start their leave is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth unless the baby is born early or automatically if the employee is off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks the baby is due.

Employees will not be able to benefit from rights such as the entitlement to paid time off for antenatal care, risk assessments and the statutory protection on account of her pregnancy from discrimination or dismissal until the employer is made aware that she is pregnant.

In order to receive Statutory Maternity Pay (“SMP”) an employee must have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks by the end of the Qualifying Week. The qualifying week is the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.

An employee must give the employer at least 28 days' notice (or, if that is not reasonably practicable, as much notice as is reasonably practicable) of the date she intends her SMP to start.

SMP is payable for 39 weeks. The first six weeks at 90% of the employee's "normal weekly earnings“ and 33 weeks at a flat rate of the lower of £138.18 or 90% of an employee’s weeks pay.

Employees on maternity leave retain the right to pay rises, accrue holiday and to return to work in the same position.

If you have any queries regarding returning to working or surrounding your rights as a pregnant employee. Please do not hesitate to get in contact with a member of the team.

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