Maternity is a significant phase in everybody’s life. The phase of giving birth to a life in one’s life is most treasured. So, the government of UK has drafted generous standards and policies to encourage childbirth and to promote better care for the new born and better healthcare for the employee during this period.
An average employee is entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave in UK. This is the standard perception regarding the maternity policies. However there are more elements to the policies and standards of maternity leave and pay to the employees and organizations which are detailed in this article.
The most important components of the policies are
- Statutory Maternity Leave
- Statutory Maternity Pay
All the elements of each component are detailed below
Statutory Maternity Leave
- Out of the 52 weeks of maternity leave available to the eligible employees, first 26 weeks are known as ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’ and the next 26 weeks are known as ‘Additional Maternity Leave’.
- Only 39 weeks of the 52 are provided with pay to the employees.
- It is mandatory for employees to take at least 2 weeks after the birth of the child (4 weeks if the person is a factory worker).
- The earliest a person can avail the leave is 11 weeks before the child is born.
- As long as the person has an employment contract, they are eligible for maternity leave no matter the number of days they worked for the company and should provide the correct notice.
- Provide a written notice to the employer at least 15 weeks before the baby is expected to be born. Start and end dates of the leave should be given in writing. For more details click this link
Statuary Maternity Pay
- 90% of the Average Weekly Earnings are paid for the first 6 weeks of the 39 weeks.
- For rest of the weeks, a stipulated standard of £145.18 or 90% of the Average Weekly earnings whichever is lower is paid.
- This payment is made with the deduction of the Tax and National Insurance.
- For agency workers, agricultural workers, contract employees, mariners, NHS employees, and supply teachers, seasonal workers or other sporadic employees, rules, and conditions differ which can be found in this link
To avail Statutory Maternity Pay the employee must be
- On employer payroll in the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth which is called as the qualifying week
- Provide the correct notice and proof of pregnancy
- Has been continuously employed for the last 26 weeks before the qualifying week
- Earned at least £116 week in the 8 weeks of the relevant period
- Employees must provide a 28 days’ notice of the date before they want to avail the SMP. Employers have the right to refuse SMP to employees if this notice is not given.
Qualified employees have full rights to avail the SML and SMP. In cases of employer decides that an employee is not qualified, then the employer has to provide SMP1 form to employees stating the reason within 7 days.
Employees who do not qualify for the Statutory Maternity Pay as per the rules and regulations laid above can avail ‘Maternity Allowance’. The amount of Maternity Allowance provided is based on the eligibility criteria which is detailed in this link
It is the prime duty of the employer to maintain all the records pertaining the maternity of each employee for 3 years from the end of the tax year. HMRC expects the employer to possess the following details
- Proof of pregnancy of employee
- SMP start date
- SMP payments by employers with dates
- SMP reclaimed by employer
- Weeks of non-payment and appropriate reason
An employee under maternity leave is entitled to all the rights of the working employee which includes paid holidays, protection from unfair dismissal, pension payments and all other benefits.
Employers facing troubles in following the tax returns services near you-related aspects of Maternity leave and pay can contact their accountants to obtain clarity. Or employer can find a local accountant with relevant knowledge for guidance in this area.