Following changes on 6 April to Statutory Maternity Pay, here’s a quick reminder of the key points to remember if one of your employees is pregnant:
1. Pregnant employees have four main rights – paid time off for antenatal care, maternity leave, maternity pay, and protection against unfair treatment, discrimination or dismissal.
2. When your employee tells you that she is pregnant, you should assess the risks to the woman and her baby. Risks could be caused by heavy lifting or carrying, standing or sitting for long periods without adequate breaks, exposure to toxic substances or long working hours.
3. Statutory Maternity Leave is 52 weeks, made up of ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’ (first 26 weeks) and ‘Additional Maternity Leave’ (last 26 weeks). Employment terms and conditions are protected and employees are entitled to any pay rises and improvements in terms and conditions given during their leave. To be eligible for statutory maternity leave, employees must have an employment contract (it doesn’t matter how long they’ve worked for you) and give you the correct notice (at least 15 weeks before the baby is expected). If the baby is born early, maternity leave starts the day after the birth.
4. The rate of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) increased on 6 April. It is paid for up to 39 weeks at 90% of your employee’s average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks, then £138.18 or 90% of their average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks. Tax and National Insurance should still be deducted. To be eligible for statutory maternity pay, an employee must:
- be on the Company payroll
- give the correct notice (at least 15 weeks before the baby is expected)
- give proof she is pregnant (by providing her MATB1 certificate)
- have worked for the Company for at least 26 weeks up to the ‘qualifying week’ – the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth
- earn at least £111 a week (gross) in an 8 week ‘relevant period’