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Employment Law And Mums-To-Be: A Blog For Mothers Day

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With Mothering Sunday fast approaching on 30th March 2014, we thought it timely to blog about working mums and expecting mums-to-be! 

There are many rules and regulations surrounding new and expectant mums within the workforce, for example, the right to maternity leave, maternity pay and protection from unfair treatment just to name a few...

Maternity and pregnancy can be a complex area for an employer, and there are various dates an employer needs to record and establish when informed of an employee’s pregnancy. These dates are:

  • The expected week of childbirth (EWC).
  • The Qualifying Week (which is the 15th week before the EWC).
  • The date on which the employee intends to start maternity leave.
  • The date the maternity leave will end.

Did you know that the earliest date an employee can start her maternity leave is the 11th week before EWC? And that any pregnancy related absence from the start of the 4th week before the EWC will automatically trigger maternity leave to start?

Many employers question how they can keep track of all the rules and regulations which are associated with new and expectant mums. The answer to this is to have a clear and informative Maternity Policy.

By implementing a Maternity Policy the employer and the employee will have a clear understanding of the entitlements and benefits associated with expectant and new mums.

The Maternity Policy will clearly explain the payments which the employee will receive and the leave they are entitled to.

A few points to note:

  • All employees regardless of length of service are entitled to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave.
  • The maternity leave is made up of 26 weeks ordinary maternity leave, and 26 weeks additional maternity leave.
  • Eligible employees that have at least 26 weeks continuous service at the end of the Qualifying Week are entitled to statutory maternity pay. This is paid for up to 39 weeks; the first 6 weeks will be paid at an earnings related rate and the remaining 33 weeks will be paid at a prescribed rate.
  • Employees on maternity leave still accrue annual leave as normal. It is recommended that employers discuss with their employee how they would like to take this leave; some employees prefer to take a bulk of leave prior to the maternity leave commencing whilst other employees prefer to save the leave that is accrued during maternity leave and take it as a bulk before returning to work.  Some employees may prefer to scatter the leave throughout the leave year.  Employees also have the right to carry this leave over into the next leave year if it has not been reasonably practicable for them to take the leave when they return from their maternity leave.

It is vital that you are aware of your legal obligations in relation to your employees’ rights to parental leave, flexible working and time off for dependants, which may affect your employees who have young children.