Firstly, if you are pregnant then Congratulations ! Secondly, make sure you are prepared financially and are aware of your rights and commitments as an employee, as well as those of your employer.
- you must have worked for your employer continuously (full or part time) for at least 26 weeks up to the ‘qualifying week’, which is the 15th week before the due date of the baby
- you must have given correct notice of when you would like the SMP payments to start (notice of 28 days which your employer may request in writing)
- you must have given proof of the pregnancy, using form MATB1 or an equivalent which will be issued by your midwife
- you must have average weekly earnings of at least £112 a week
If you meet the above qualifying conditions then you will be entitled to receive SMP for 39 weeks. For the first 6 weeks you will be paid 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) and then for the next 33 weeks you will be paid £139.58 per week (or if lower 90% of your average weekly earnings).
As with Statutory Sick Pay, SMP is paid in the same way as your wages (eg monthly or weekly) and is subject to tax and national insurance deductions. If you do not qualify for SMP you must get form SMP1 from your employer and instead you may well be able to claim Maternity Allowance.
With regard to Statutory Maternity Leave, at least 15 weeks before your due date tell your employer when you want to start your leave and it is your employers right to ask for this in writing. Your employer must then write back to you within 28 days confirming the start and end dates of your leave.
Statutory Maternity Leave is 52 weeks and the first 26 weeks are classified as ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’ and the last 26 weeks are classified as ‘Additional Maternity Leave’ You are not required to take 52 weeks leave (remember only 39 weeks are paid) but you must take at least 2 weeks leave after the birth (which rises to 4 weeks if you work in a factory). Usually the earliest you can start your leave is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth.
If the baby is early, leave will start the day after the birth and if you are off work in the last 4 weeks before the expected week of childbirth with a pregnancy related illness your leave will start automatically. Please also be aware that your employment rights are protected while on leave and includes your right to pay rises and build up/accrue holiday.
How to Contact Us: Write to: Bantoft & Co. Ltd The Boathouse Business Centre No.1 Harbour Square Nene Parade Wisbech Cambridgeshire PE13 3BH Call us on 01945 581102, or our mobile number is 07795 9556