Maternity pay and returning to work

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Maternity pay and returning to work

Working Rights
Maternity pay
  • Although you can take 52 weeks’ maternity leave, you can only receive Statutory Maternity Pay from your employer or Maternity Allowance from the Department for Work and Pensions for 39 weeks. 
  • To be eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay from your employer, you must have:
– worked continuously for them for at least 26 weeks up to and into the 15th week before the week when the baby is due
– average weekly earnings of at least £111
– written to your employer by the end of the 15th week before the week when your baby is due, telling them when you intend to take maternity leave and start receiving Statutory Maternity Pay, and giving them the maternity certificate (form MATB1), which your midwife will give you from the 21st week of your pregnancy.
  • Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for 39 weeks. For the first six weeks it is paid at 90% of your average weekly earnings. The remaining 33 weeks are paid at whichever is lower of the Statutory Maternity Pay rate of £139.58 or 90% of your average weekly earnings.
  • Your employer must tell you if you are not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay by giving you form SMP1. In this case you can claim Maternity Allowance as soon as you’ve been pregnant for 26 weeks. Payments can start 11 weeks before your baby is due.
  • You are eligible for Maternity Allowance if you:
– have been employed or self-employed for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before the week your baby is due; and
– earned at least £30 per week over any 13-week period.
  • Maternity Allowance is paid at whichever is lower of 90% of your average weekly earnings or £139.58 . It is paid for 39 weeks.
  • Both parents may now be eligible to share 50 weeks of leave as Shared Parental Leave.
  • Use the government’s calculator (https://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-maternity-pay) to estimate your Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance.
Returning to work
  • You do not need to tell your employer if you are returning to work on the date you have already given them. 
  • You must give your employer eight weeks’ notice if you want to return on a different date.
  • If you return after Ordinary Maternity Leave, you are entitled to your old job back. 
  • If you return after taking Additional Maternity Leave, you only have a right to a similar job if it is not possible to return to the same job. The similar job must be at the same level with terms and conditions at least as good as your previous job. If you unreasonably refuse the similar job, your employer can take this as your resignation.
  • You have no right to return to work part-time after maternity leave. But you are entitled to ask to change to another working pattern, such as part-time or flexible working. 
  • The request must be in writing and should state:
– Your relationship to the child
– The proposed start date of the flexible working arrangement
– The effect the flexible working pattern will have on the employer’s business
– The date of any previous application for flexible working.
  • Your employer has a statutory duty to consider the request seriously and to refuse it only if there are clear business grounds for doing so.
Where to get more information
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