Maternity Employment Rights
It’s not uncommon for a new mother to take up to several months off work after childbirth. However, prior to even considering this leave, it’s important to know the law and your legal rights as a working mother.
Maternity leave rights
Maternity leave rights play an imperative part in employment law and whilst the basics of such leave may seem simple, the likes of redundancy and the nature of employment can make the entire situation a little more complex.
If you’re unsure of anything or feel you’re being treated unfairly, it’s wise to seek a solicitor’s opinion.
Statutory maternity leave
Eligible employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. The first 26 weeks are classed as ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’ whilst the last 26 weeks are often regarded as ‘Additional Maternity Leave’.
Your eligibility may depend on a number of things, including how long you’ve worked for the specific company as well as previous work.
11 weeks before the expected due date of your baby is the earliest you can take your leave. Employees must take at least 2 weeks off from work after childbirth by law. This increases to 4 weeks for those who work in a factory environment.
Statutory maternity pay
Eligible employers can be paid for up to 39 weeks of leave. In the first six weeks, they will receive up to 90% of their average weekly earnings before tax. In the latter 33 weeks, this will equate to a sum of around £138.78.
Extra leave or pay
Those who work for a company that offers a maternity scheme may be entitled to extra leave or pay. The company in question must certify that their maternity leave policies are easy to understand and also, easily accessible to staff.
What to do if the baby is born early?
Leave begins the day after the birth; this rule applies even if the baby is born early. The employee must inform their employer of this exact date. You will then receive a written letter confirming the new date of leave.
During maternity leave, all of the employee’s employment rights are fully protected. These include holidays and returning to a job.
What you must do before maternity leave
By law, employees must have an employment contract in place in order to qualify for statutory maternity leave. They must also give the employer adequate notice.
It’s essential that they have worked in the company for at least 26 weeks up to the qualifying week (the 15th week before childbirth). Another factor to consider is earnings; those wishing to take paid maternity leave must earn a sum of £109 per week in an 8-week applicable period.
Proof of pregnancy
Prior to embarking on your leave, you must attain proof of your pregnancy. This will often consist of a doctor’s note or alternatively, a MATB1 certificate. Such proof is usually released 20 weeks prior to childbirth.
Without this proof, the employer isn’t required to pay statutory maternity pay.