Maternity FAQ’s

Can my employer insist that I take my maternity early because my duties are affected by my pregnancy?

It depends on the circumstances. An employer should carry out a risk assessment as soon as you inform them that you are pregnant. If there is an identified risk which cannot be removed or reduced then you may be suspended on maternity grounds from work for as long as it necessary to avoid the risk provided that there is no suitable alternative work available. You should be paid in full during suspension. If suspension is likely to last up to the birth then you may be asked to start your Maternity Leave at the beginning of the 4th week before the expected week of childbirth.

If there are medical reasons for pregnancy to be affecting duties and you are absent from work then your Maternity Leave will commence at the beginning of the 4th week before the expected week of childbirth.

Situations vary and you should seek further legal advice if you are affected by this.

Can I change my mind about when I want to start my maternity?

An employee who has given notice to commence maternity leave can revise the date on which she intends to start by giving her employer further notice. If you wish to delay the start of your maternity leave you must tell your employer 28 days before the date previously notified. If you wish to bring forward the date of your maternity leave then you must tell your employer 28 days before the start of your new proposed date (which must be no earlier than the beginning of the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth).

If you are unsure you should seek further legal advice.

Can my employer insist that I take my antenatal appointments on my days off because I’m only part time?

A pregnant employee has the right to paid time off during working hours for antenatal care. You have the right not to be unreasonably refused time off. There may be circumstances in which refusal will be reasonable. It may be reasonable for an employer to refuse time off if it is reasonable for the appointment to be made outside of working hours. As such a part-time employee may be asked to make any non-urgent antenatal appointment(s) on a non-working day. This assumes that the employee has some control over the timing of appointments which is usually not the case.

You should seek further legal advice if this affects you.

If I am on maternity leave and my employer has decided to make me redundant do I have any special rights, or am I entitled to additional pay?

Possibly, depending upon the circumstances.

If there is a redundancy situation and the employee’s job is redundant were there are suitable available vacancies within the company, the employee is entitled to be offered the alternative employment in preference to employees who are not on maternity leave. The alternative work should be both suitable and appropriate for you to do in the circumstances and should not be substantially less favourable to you than if you continued to be employed under your existing contract.

If you are still in receipt of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and are made redundant then the employer must continue to pay you until your SMP runs out. You should also be paid both statutory/contractual redundancy pay and notice pay based on what your full earnings were before you commenced maternity leave.

If you are pregnant and in a redundancy situation you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.

I am the bread winner in our family, after my pregnancy once I feel fit to return to work can my partner use my maternity to look after the baby?

A father (provided that he is an employee) is entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ Statutory Paternity Leave. The father must be continuously employed for at least 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth and has or expects to have responsibility for upbringing the child. The father must give his employer notice of his intention to take Paternity Leave providing the expected date of childbirth, the length of his absence (one or two consecutive weeks)and the date the leave is to be begin before the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (or as soon as reasonably practicable).
If the father satisfies the above conditions he can also take additional paternity leave to care for the child before s/he reaches their first birthday provided that the mother has returned early from maternity leave. If the mother has not exhausted her entitlement to Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance the father may be eligible to receive additional statutory paternity pay for the remaining period.

For example if you return to work from maternity leave after 6 months the father can take the remaining Statutory Maternity Pay as Additional Paternity Pay. If you were to return after 9 months then the father can take the remaining 3 months as Additional Paternity Leave but will not be paid for this leave.

The government has announced changes to take place sometime in 2015 which will entitle mothers and their partners to be absent from work to care of a child for a maximum of 52 weeks. Eligible couples will also be able to take up to 39 weeks of shared parental pay. A couple will be able to take the leave together rather than having to have the mother return to work.

How much maternity leave am I entitled to?

There are three periods of statutory maternity leave for pregnant employees:-

Compulsory maternity leave – all employees must take two weeks compulsory maternity leave immediately following the date of childbirth. This period forms part of the ordinary maternity leave period;

Ordinary maternity leave – all pregnant employees are entitled to take a period of 26 weeks’ leave regardless of their length of service provided that they have given their employer the requisite notice; and

Additional maternity leave – all pregnant employees are entitled to take a further period of 26 weeks’ leave regardless of their length of service after their ordinary maternity leave.

A pregnant employee must notify their employer no later than the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (or if that is not reasonably practicable, as soon as possible)that she is pregnant, the expected week of childbirth and the date on which she intends her ordinary maternity leave to start.

If you are unsure of the notification dates and what is required you should seek legal advice.

How much will I be paid during maternity leave?

At present you are entitled to receive £136.78 statutory maternity pay for a period of 39 weeks. The remaining weeks are unpaid. However, your contract of employment may provide for a period of full pay.

If you are unsure whether you are entitled to contractual maternity pay you should seek legal advice.

What is the standard rule to give notice of my intended return to work after maternity leave?

Statutory maternity leave normally lasts 52 weeks in total; 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks’ additional maternity leave. Assuming the employee has taken her full entitlement, the first day back to work would fall on the same day of the week as the first day of maternity leave, i.e. for those whose last working day before taking statutory maternity leave was Wednesday and whose leave started on Thursday, she would be entitled to obliged to return to work on the Thursday 52 weeks later.

There is an automatic right to return to work and it is assumed that the employee will return to work unless she says otherwise. A woman returning to work after her full entitlement to statutory maternity leave is not required to give her employer any notice of intention to return, she can simply turn up for work the day after her 52-week leave period has ended.

If you wish to return to work before the end of the full maternity leave, you must give your employer at least 8 weeks’ notice of the date you intend to return to work. There is no requirement to do this in writing. If you do not give your employer at least 8 weeks’ notice of your intention to return your employer is entitled to postpone your return to a date that will secure the full 8 week notice period.

If you are unsure of the notification dates and what is required you should seek legal advice.

When I return to work, does it have to be the same job I did when my maternity leave started?

An employee’s right to return from maternity leave is a right to return to her old job on terms and conditions no less favourable than those on those which would have applied had she not been absent. If you are returning from additional maternity leave and it is not reasonably practicable for you to return to that job then you have a right to return to a suitable and appropriate alternative job but still on no less favourable terms and conditions.

You may wish to return to work on different hours to fit in with family responsibilities. You would need to make a “flexible working request” as there is no automatic right to return from maternity leave on different hours unless your contract of employment has a term enabling you to do so.

If you are do wish to make a request to return on different hours or you have been told that your job no longer exists or has been made redundant, you should seek legal advice.

 

 

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