Am I entitled to maternity leave and pay?

30 July 2014

Worthingtons Solicitors comment on current entitlement for maternity leave and pay

Any pregnant employee is entitled to take up to 52 weeks Statutory Maternity Leave. This leave is made up of 26 weeks ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’ and thereafter 26 weeks ‘Additional Maternity Leave’. Employees do not have to take 52 weeks but they must take 2 weeks leave after their baby is born (or 4 weeks if they work in a factory).

Usually, the earliest you can start your leave is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth. Leave will also start the day after the birth if the baby is early or automatically if you’re off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the week that your baby is due.

An employee will qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay if she satisfies the following criteria:

• earns at least £111 per week on average;

• gives the correct notice;

• provides proof of pregnancy if requested; and

• has worked for her employer continuously for at least 26 weeks up to the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (the ‘qualifying week’.

Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for up to 39 weeks. An employee will receive:

• 90% of her average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks; and

• £138.18 or 90% of her average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks

Often employers will offer employees more generous packages to the statutory entitlement and therefore you should check your employment contract to ascertain if it provides for an increased payment. If your employer advises you that you do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay they must provide you with a form SMP1 explaining why within 7 days of making their decision. In such circumstances you may qualify for maternity allowance in the alternative via the Social Security Agency.

In order to ensure that you receive statutory maternity leave you must tell your employer when the baby is due and when you intend to start your maternity leave at least 15 weeks before your due date.

With regard to statutory maternity pay you should give your employer at least 28 days notice and advise them when you want to stop work and the day you want your statutory maternity pay to start. Your employer must confirm within 28 days how much pay you will receive and when it will begin and end. Parents should also be aware that it is now possible for new father’s to claim up to up to 26 weeks' Additional Paternity Leave to care for the child if the child’s mother was entitled to Statutory Maternity Leave/pay and has started working again so that any pay has stopped.

For more information and advice in relation to your maternity entitlements please contact Worthingtons on 02890434015 and ask to speak with a member of the Employment department or complete the form below:-

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