The top 6 things you should know about maternity pay as an employer

As an employer, you are very much responsible for the welfare of your employees. Aside from making sure that their work area is safe from harm, that they are fairly compensated for the work they do, it is also important that you are aware of their rights when they go on maternity leave.

Employees can take a leave up to 52 weeks and the earliest they can take the leave is about 11 weeks before the mother is expected to give birth. If you want more information, here are the six things you need to know about maternity pay.  

1. SMP or Statutory Maternity Pay is different from maternity allowance – SMP is your responsibility as an employer, while the maternity allowance is given by the government for those who are not eligible to receive the SMP.

2. Not everyone who goes on maternity leave will get SMP – you need to know the criteria for your employee to avail of the SMP. In order for them to receive it, the employee must have been working for you continuously, whether as a part-time or full-time worker, for 26 weeks or more up to 15 weeks before the expected date of birth of the infant. They must also be able to provide proof of the pregnancy of course, which can be in the form of the MATB1 certificate or a certification from the doctor or midwife confirming the pregnancy.

3. Maternity allowance is paid by the government – for those who are not able to qualify for the criteria for SMP, and for those who are self-employed, they can get the maternity allowance.  The amount that your employees will get depends on their eligibility, so research further to know exactly how much they will receive. Do remind them that they will need to do the application themselves as the allowance will not come from you but the Department for Work and Pensions.

4. As an employer, you can give more than the amount set – you can actually give more than the amount set by the government. If your company would like to be more generous to your employees and give them more than what the law requires, you may do so. It is also up to you if you will put in the contract your employees will sign, or if you will decide on a case by case basis.

5. The leave starts the day after the birth of the baby – if the baby is born earlier than the notice given to you by your employee, just count the leave days beginning the day after the baby was born. Make sure that they provide you with an official confirmation of the birth date so that you can, in turn, give the new end date of their leave.

6. While on leave, employees retain their employment rights – as an employer, you need to know that your employee’s rights are protected. That includes the fact that they can return to their jobs after their leave or if they opt to lengthen their leave, they can still get their old job back or something similar to it.

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