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What You Need to Know About Maternity Leave and Pay

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Calculating how much leave or pay a pregnant employee may be entitled to can be a confusing process. We break down exactly how much Statutory Maternity Leave and Statutory Maternity Pay you should be giving your employees and when they are eligible.

Statutory Maternity Leave – Who’s Eligible?

Employees are eligible for maternity leave if:

  • The person in question is considered an employee and not a worker
  • The employee notifies their employer by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of the child’s birth (this is known as the ‘qualifying week’)
  • Employees are also entitled to Statutory Maternity Leave if their baby is born early, is stillborn after the 24th week of pregnancy or dies after birth

Employers are entitled to ask for details of the baby’s due date and maternity leave period in writing. This would usually be done when the employee notifies their employer of their pregnancy.

Statutory Maternity Pay – Who’s Eligible?

Pregnant employees qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) if they meet the following criteria:

  • They earn on average a minimum of £111 per week
  • They give the correct notice period as outlined above
  • They provide proof of pregnancy
  • They have worked for your company continuously for at least 26 weeks up to the 15th week before the expected week of the child’s birth

Employees Who Aren’t Eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay

If you believe an employee does not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay or Leave you must give your employee an SMP1 form within 7 days of making your decision and explain to them the reasons for your decision.

How Long is Statutory Maternity Leave?

Employees who are eligible for Statutory Maternity Leave may take up to 52 weeks maternity leave. This is comprised of ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’ and ‘Additional Maternity Leave’ both types of leave are legal entitlements for an eligible employee and last 26 weeks each.

  • The earliest that Statutory Maternity Leave can be taken is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth.
  • The employee must take a minimum of 2 weeks off after the birth, or a minimum of 4 weeks off after the birth if they are a factory worker.
  • Under new laws covering Flexible Parental Leave a working mother will be able to choose to share leave with their partner as flexible parental leave after they take the mandatory 2 week period after the birth.
  • The Government will introduce further changes to flexible parental leave in 2015.

Calculating Statutory Maternity Pay

Statutory Maternity Pay for eligible employees can be paid for a period of up to 39 weeks; this is usually paid in the following way:

  • For the first 6 weeks the employee should receive 90% of their average weekly earnings (AWE) before tax
  • For the following 33 weeks the employee would receive either £138.18 per week or 90% of their average weekly earnings depending on which figure is the lowest

National Insurance and Tax should be deducted.

Statutory Maternity Leave & Pay is Not Always Straightforward

There are a number of special rules for certain employee situations, for example, if they should become sick or the baby is born before the qualifying week. So ensure that you have consulted an employment law professional to confirm that you are following the correct legal procedure with your employee. Contact us today for free impartial employment law advice on 0161 115 6164.

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