Maternity Pay And Leave – Maternity Rights for Employees
A pregnant employee is entitled to 52 weeks maternity leave in the UK. She also has the right to return to a comparable job on similar terms and conditions if she takes the full time off.
She is currently paid at 90% of her normal earnings for the first 6 weeks. After that she gets the maternity pay rate of £136.78 per week up to 39 weeks. From 39 to 52 weeks maternity leave is unpaid. If you are a small employer, with NI contributions below a certain level, all the maternity pay can be reclaimed at 105% from the government – ask your accountant how to do this.
It is a popular misconception that the employee can then take parental leave of 13 weeks immediately after her maternity leave. There is a right to parental leave of 13 weeks (unpaid) for all parents with children up to 18 years of age. However, the statutory maximum that can be taken at any one time is 4 weeks. Employees have to give 21 days notice. The employer can postpone it up to 6 months if the business operations would be disrupted.
Unless you have your own policy which allows employees to take 13 weeks all at once – why would you? – the maximum the employee could take in this case would be 4 weeks, and you would still have the option to defer.
You can set your own rules on how these thirteen weeks can be taken. You can decide
- whether this can be taken in odd days,
- as one long block,
- or even as reduced working hours;
- how much notice of parental leave must be given,
- and what the arrangements are for postponing parental leave.
Your own rules do, as with employment contracts, have to be more than the statutory minimum. If they are not, the statutory rules will apply and overrule anything you think you have agreed.
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Posted in: Managing Employees