Whilst pregnancy can be common to most workplaces, employers in childcare do seem to have more than most. There are client’s I’ve visited that have more than one worker pregnant at a time, as you can imagine, I don’t take a seat, and definitely don’t drink their coffee!
Women who are pregnant are not the enemy, and employers should be aware of the rights of the mother and their rights as an employer. All women regardless of their service are entitled to 26 weeks Ordinary Maternity Leave and 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave and an employer should plan that they will be off for the full 52 weeks even if they advise you verbally they will be returning much sooner.
If the woman has 6 months service with her employer before the 15th week prior to the week the baby is due then she will be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from you as her employer.
She will receive either the Statutory Maternity Pay of £139.58 or 90% of her normal weekly wages if that is lower than £139.58 per week. She must earn the Lower Earnings Limit for national insurance contributions (£112). If she is not entitled to SMP you must give her the HMRC form SMP1.
In the first 6 weeks of maternity leave, the woman will receive 90% of her normal weekly wage. Women are paid SMP for 39 weeks in total. A woman can’t delay advising you when she will taking her maternity leave and must let you know by the 15th week prior to the expected week of confinement. She will be prompted in most cases by her midwife or consultant giving her the MAT B1 statement. This statement should be copied and a copy placed on her personnel file. It is the prompt for the employer to write to the employee outlining the dates of maternity leave, the rates of pay and their dates and to inform the employee about Keeping in Touch days that were introduced in 2007.
By now you will have already completed the Maternity Risk Assessment with your pregnant employee. This is very important document and should always be completed with the staff member involved. Evidence that the risk assessment has been carried out should be placed on the personnel file. Always revisit the risk assessment as the pregnancy continues. A women working in childcare at 38 weeks will find different hazards than a woman at 10 weeks.
When someone is on maternity leave they continue to accrue holidays. It is useful to discuss holiday accrual with your employee prior to the commencement of maternity leave, and in most cases it is advisable for a proportion, but not all, of the entitlement to be taken up front of the maternity leave. If all is taken and the employee leaves your employment during maternity leave, they will owe you holiday pay back and there may not be any pay to make a legitimate deduction from.
One final point regarding the payment of maternity pay, that you may not have heard before. If your employee leaves your employment during maternity leave, or after the 11th week prior to the week of confinement, she will be entitled to receive the 39 weeks Statutory Maternity Pay from you as her employer. This is so long as she doesn’t start work for another employer, and that didn’t already employer her prior to the 15th week before EWC.