Well, not quite. I am having my first baby, due on 7th February, but I’ve already had my orders to bring him into the office for plenty of cuddles. It’s an extremely exciting time for me and my partner and we’re over the moon that we will soon be parents. I would just like to thank the many clients that have wished me well during my pregnancy, I’m sure my colleagues will have great pleasure in letting you all know when he has arrived.
There are so many things to think about when finding out that you’re expecting a baby, especially when it’s your first like me. If I can take this opportunity to highlight a little bit of useful information, then maybe that’s one less thing to worry about for expectant Mom’s.
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is paid for up to 39 weeks. You get:
90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks
£145.18 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks
SMP is paid in the same way as your wages (for example monthly or weekly). Tax and National Insurance will be deducted.
There is also a useful SMP Calculator on https://www.gov.uk/pay-leave-for-parents
SMP usually starts when you take your maternity leave. It starts automatically if you’re off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the week (Sunday to Saturday) that your baby is due.
Tell your employer you want to stop work to have a baby and the day you want your SMP to start. You must give them at least 28 days’ notice (in writing if they ask for it) and proof that you’re pregnant. Your employer must confirm within 28 days how much SMP you’ll get and when it will start and stop. If they decide you’re not eligible, they must give you form SMP1 within 7 days of making their decision and explain why.
Statutory Maternity Leave (SML)
Statutory Maternity Leave is 52 weeks. It’s made up of:
Ordinary Maternity Leave - first 26 weeks
Additional Maternity Leave - last 26 weeks
You don’t have to take 52 weeks, but you must take 2 weeks’ leave after your baby is born (or 4 weeks if you work in a factory).
There is also a calculator to help you work out the dates for your ordinary and additional leave and to work out to the earliest date your maternity leave can start at https://www.gov.uk/pay-leave-for-parents. Usually, the earliest you can start your leave is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth.
Leave will also start:
The day after the birth if the baby is early
Automatically if you’re off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the week (Sunday to Saturday) that your baby is due.
You must give your employer at least 8 weeks’ notice if you want to change your return to work date.
Employee rights when on Maternity Leave
Keeping in touch days
Employees can work up to 10 days during their maternity leave. These days are called ‘keeping in touch days’. They are optional and both the employee and employer need to agree to them.
Terms and Conditions Protection
The employment terms and conditions are protected, and employees are entitled to any pay rises and improvements in terms and conditions given during the leave. Pension contributions usually stop if a period of leave is unpaid, unless your contract says otherwise. For example, during unpaid periods of maternity leave or parental leave. Employees continue to build up holiday entitlement and can take any holiday they’ve accrued (built up) before or after the leave.
Employees must tell their employer about the pregnancy at least 15 weeks before the beginning of the week the baby is due. If this is not possible (for example because they did not know they were pregnant) the employer must be told as soon as possible. Employees must also tell the employer when they want to start their Statutory Maternity Leave and Statutory Maternity Pay.
Paid Antenatal Care
Employers must give pregnant employees time off for antenatal care and pay their normal rate for this time off. The father or pregnant woman’s partner has the right to unpaid time off work to go to 2 antenatal appointments.
Health and Safety for Pregnant Employees
When the employee tells their employer they’re pregnant, the employer should assess the risks to the employee and their baby.
Risks could be caused by:
Heavy lifting or carrying
Standing or sitting for long periods without adequate breaks
Exposure to toxic substances
Long working hours
Where there are risks, the employer should take reasonable steps to remove them. For example, offering the employee different work or changing their hours.
It is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of being pregnant.
See you all soon!