Maternity Leave - Rights for Employees
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Rights for employees
By law, all pregnant employees are entitled to ordinary maternity leave of 26
weeks. Employees who worked for their employer continuously for at least 12
months are also entitled to an additional maternity leave. Employees may have
additional leave rights under their contracts. Employees have the right to
return to work at the end of their maternity leave. If refused, or otherwise
treated unfavourably, they may also have additional claims for unfair dismissal
and sex discrimination.
To take maternity leave, you must follow a prescribed procedure. You will
have to inform your employer of your pregnancy, the expected week of birth, the
date on which you would like to start your maternity leave and, if you are
absent from work for a pregnancy-related reason, the reason for your absence.
You cannot start your maternity leave before the beginning of the eleventh
week before the expected week of birth, unless you gave birth earlier. You may
start your leave before the notified date if you are absent from work for a
Maternity leave periods
By law, there are two maternity leave periods:
Ordinary maternity leave. This lasts for 26 weeks. You have the right to
return to your old job at the end of your leave on terms and conditions no less
favourable than would have applied if you had not been absent on leave, provided
you give your employer at least 28 daysí notice. During your leave, you are
entitled to your contractual benefits, except for remuneration. You are likely
to be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).
Additional maternity leave. This is available if you have worked for your
employer continuously for at least 26 weeks at the beginning of the 14th week
before the expected week of birth. It starts at the end of the ordinary
maternity leave and can last for up to an additional 26 weeks. Your contract of
employment continues during the leave period and some contractual benefits and
obligations remain in force. You have to give your employer at least 28 daysí
notice if you want to return to work. You have the right to return to your old
job or to similar job on no less favourable terms.
If you also have a right to take maternity leave under your contract, you may
take advantage of only the more favourable of your rights.
If your employer breaches any of your maternity rights, or otherwise treats
you unfairly because you are pregnant, you are likely to have a sex
discrimination claim. In addition, if you are not allowed to return to work at
the end of your maternity leave, you will be treated as having been dismissed
and may have a claim for automatic unfair dismissal. If you are made redundant
whilst on leave, you may also have a claim for redundancy payment.
For unfair dismissal and sex discrimination, the most common remedy is
compensation. Compensation for sex discrimination has no upper cap but will be
limited to an amount which will put you, as far as possible, in the position you
would have been in had you not been discriminated against.
Compensation for unfair dismissal is divided into a basic award and a
compensatory award. The compensatory award depends on your actual losses and is
capped. You have to take reasonable steps to minimise your losses, for example,
to look for another job.
If your employer breached the terms of a contractual leave policy, you may
also have claim for breach of contract.
You should make your complaints at the employment tribunal which is local to
where you work (or worked). Sex discrimination, unfair dismissal and breach of
contract claims must normally be presented within 3 months of the effective date
of termination. A claim for redundancy payment has to be made within 6 months of
the relevant date. Only in truly exceptional circumstances, a tribunal may allow
you to make a complaint out of time. You may, as an alternative, bring a breach
of contract claim in the county or high court, within six years of the effective
date of termination.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-04-08 09:49:28 in Employee Articles