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Your Rights to Maternity Leave

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 5 May 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Leave Work Rights Maternity Family

There are a great deal of rights, rules and regulations surrounding maternity leave to ensure that pregnant women are treated fairly in the workplace. Employers are usually fully aware of the employment law regarding pregnancy and maternity leave, but you are still advised to understand what benefits and rights you are entitled to.

When your pregnancy is confirmed and you have completed your 12-week scan, inform your employer of your situation as soon as possible. This is important for a number of reasons:

  • Your employer cannot be found discriminatory in any way regarding your pregnancy if you have not told them.
  • You will be able to utilise the advantages that you're entitled to.
  • You are required by law to tell you employer in a timely fashion so that maternity cover and relevant pay can be arranged.

Statutory Maternity Pay

In the UK, Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is available to the majority of working women to enable them to have a child without any form of discrimination in the workplace. Employment law is very clear in the case of pregnancy and maternity leave, with employers unable to penalise a pregnant member of staff for any issue that may be at all connected with their pregnancy.

Employers should allow a pregnancy employee to able to attend any necessary appointment within work time if it is connected to their pregnancy. As such, you may attend antenatal classes and any recommended exercise or relaxation classes in work time. You may also be excused from any activities that make you feel uncomfortable, either physically or emotionally.

What Am I Entitled To?

Changes to the monetary recompense for statutory maternity pay came about on April 1st 2007. Since then the number of paid weeks has increased from 26 to 39. Current statutory maternity leave is for up to 52 weeks, with the first 39 weeks paid by your employer. For the first six weeks of maternity leave you will receive a minimum of 90% of your average earnings, and then up to £128.73 for the remaining 33 weeks of the 39 paid weeks. However, this is the government SMP regulations and your employer may have their own maternity pay scheme.

Maternity Pay Schemes

Large companies are especially likely to have their own maternity pay scheme. Check either with your union or your HR department as soon as you can to understand what benefits and advice you have access to. For example, many employers will provide more than the minimum payment. If, however, your employer does not have their own maternity pay scheme, you will need to understand what you are entitled to and ensure that you receive what is available to you.

When you start your maternity leave, you will be paid in the same manner as when you were working, such as once a month directly into your bank account. You will still pay tax and national insurance in the same manner, too. If you have chosen to take the full 52 weeks maternity leave, your employer may offer additional payment for the additional 13 weeks following SMP, although it is currently more common for this period to be unpaid.

Maternity Allowance

If you are not in full time work when you become pregnant, you may still be entitled to some SMP, depending on whether you fulfil certain criteria. For example, you can get Maternity Allowance if you are self-employed and have paid Class 2 contributions, or if you have worked at least 26 of the 66 weeks before your baby is due, with an average weekly earning of at least £30 for at least 13 of those weeks.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
@Kingy, as a dad you don't have any legal right to time off to accompany your partner to antenatal appointments. However, some companies will allow you to take paid time off or make up the time at a later date.
WorkingRights - 8-May-12 @ 12:46 PM
Hi we have recently found out that my other half is pregnant and we have a scan on Friday as a man does my work have to give me the time off or can they refuse?
Kingy - 5-May-12 @ 8:09 PM
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