If you or your spouse/partner is pregnant, you are entitled to take time off before and/or after the birth of your child. You can also receive Statutory Maternity or Paternity Pay while you are away from work.
If you are pregnant, you are entitled to 52 weeks Statutory Maternity Leave, made up of 26 weeks’ ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’ and 26 weeks’ ‘Additional Maternity Leave’. You do not have to use all of your leave but you must take two weeks’ off after the birth of your child (or four weeks if you work in a factory).
The main difference between Ordinary Maternity Leave and Additional Maternity Leave is the right to return to work. If you return to work after Ordinary Maternity Leave, then you are entitled to return to the same job that you had before you took leave. However, if you return to work after Additional Maternity Leave, you are entitled to return to the same job unless your employer says that that is unreasonable. In that case, your employer must offer you another suitable position with the same pay and conditions as your previous job. If your employee fails to do this, or offers you an unsuitable job and dismisses you when you refuse it, you may have a claim for unfair dismissal or discrimination.
The earliest you can usually start your leave is 11 weeks before you expect your baby to be born. If the baby is born early, your maternity leave will start on the day after the birth, or automatically if you take time off for a pregnancy-related illness in the four weeks prior to the week the birth is due.
To qualify for Statutory Maternity Leave, you must give your employer notice at least 15 weeks’ before your due date. Your notice must say when your child is due and when you want to take maternity leave. Providing you give the correct notice, it does not matter how long you have worked for your employer, how many hours you do or how much you are paid – you will still be entitled to maternity leave.
Your employer must reply to you in writing within 28 days to confirm the start and end dates of your leave. If you wish to change the date that you return to work, you must give your employer eight weeks’ notice.
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) lasts for 39 weeks. During the first six weeks, you are entitled to 90% of your average weekly pay (before tax). After that, during the remaining 33 weeks, you are entitled to £138.18 per week or 90% of your average weekly pay, whichever is lower. Your employer will pay you maternity pay in the same way as your regular wages, and tax and National Insurance will be deducted.
Your maternity pay will start when you take your maternity leave and starts automatically if you take time off for a pregnancy-related illness in the four weeks prior to the week your child is due.
To qualify for SMP, you must earn at least £111 a week and have worked for your employer continuously for a minimum of 26 weeks up to the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. You will also need to give the correct notice for Statutory Maternity Leave, as described above, and provide proof of your pregnancy. The proof must be provided within 21 days of your SMP start and will either be a letter from your doctor or midwife, or your MATB1 certificate (this is usually given to you by your doctor or midwife 20 weeks before your due date.
You will still be entitled to receive your agreed Statutory Maternity Pay if your child is born early, is stillborn after the start of your 24th week of pregnancy, or dies after birth.
If you do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay, your employer must give you a SMP1 form explaining why you cannot receive SMP within seven days of making their decision. You may be able to claim Maternity Allowance. You can do this by filling out an MA1 form available from the Department for Work and Pensions website, and sending it to the Wrexham Maternity Allowance team. The allowance amounts to £138.18 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less) for up to 39 weeks, followed by £27 a week for up to 14 weeks.
Maternity Allowance is one of the benefits that are affected by the benefit cap.
If your spouse/partner is pregnant, then you may be entitled to one or two weeks’ Ordinary Paternity Leave. This must be taken all at once and is the same amount of days that you would usually work in a week, e.g. working part-time for three days a week will mean one weeks’ leave equals to three days. You may be offered more by your employer if they have a separate paternity leave policy, but you cannot be offered less.
You can only take leave after the birth of your child, and your leave must end within 56 days of the birth. Unlike maternity leave, you do not have to give specific notice to your employer, just the general time in which you would like to take leave, but you must give your employer 28 days’ notice if you wish to change your start date.
To qualify for Ordinary Paternity Leave, you must have worked for your employer continuously for a minimum of 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth, and give the correct notice. This must state the child’s due date, when you want to take your leave and whether you want one or two weeks’ leave. This must be given at least 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth.
If your partner/spouse has not used all of their maternity leave, then you can take up to a further 26 weeks of Additional Paternity Leave. This can start 20 weeks after the birth of the child and must end on their first birthday. Unlike Ordinary Paternity Leave, you will need to confirm your start and end with your employer and give them six weeks’ notice if you wish to change your start or end date.
You may be entitled to Ordinary Paternity and Additional Paternity Pay, which is a minimum of £138.18 or 90% of your average weekly pay (whichever is lower). Like Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), this will be paid in the same way as your normal salary, with Tax and National Insurance deducted in the usual way.
Paternity pay is normally paid while you are away on paternity leave. Your employer will need to confirm with you the start and dates for your paternity pay when you claim it. You will not receive any pay for Additional Paternity Leave taken after the end of your partner/spouse’s Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance period.
As with Ordinary Paternity Leave, you must give your employer 28 days’ notice if you wish to change the start date for receiving paternity pay.
To qualify for Ordinary Paternity Pay, you must have worked for the same period required for Ordinary Paternity leave, earn at least £111 (before tax), given the correct notice as required for Ordinary Paternity Leave and be employed by your employer up to the date of the birth of the child.
To qualify for Additional Paternity Leave and Pay, the child’s mother must have qualified for Statutory Maternity Leave, Pay or Maternity Allowance, but should have returned to work and no longer be claiming. Also, you must:
In addition, your employer may ask you for a copy of your child’s birth certificate or the employment details of the mother, which you must provide within 28 days.
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