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“We employed a meeter/greeter for a 12 month fixed term contract. She has recently informed us that she has become pregnant and the baby is due to be born in December 2015. She has asked if she would get any maternity benefits, taking into consideration she is on a 12 month contract, please can you advise?”
All employees, regardless of service, qualify for 52 weeks’ maternity leave. This employee’s contract may have ended prior to commencing maternity leave, however, she may well qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay even if her fixed term contract expires prior to the commencement of her maternity leave.
In order to qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay, the employee must have been continuously employed by the company for at least 26 weeks’ ending with the Qualifying Week (which is 15 weeks prior to the expected week of childbirth). She must also have average weekly earnings in the eight weeks leading up to the Qualifying Week above the lower earnings limit for National Insurance Contributions. The current lower earnings limit is £112 (gross). The employee must also still be pregnant at the eleventh week before the expected week of childbirth and she must give to the company proper notification of her pregnancy and a MAT B1 form.
Her entitlement to Statutory Maternity Pay would be for the full 39 weeks, which is broken down into six weeks at 90% of her average weekly earnings (calculated on her weekly salary in the eight weeks prior to starting the maternity paid period) and the remaining 33 weeks are paid at the government rate (presently £139.58). It would be for the company to decide whether to pay it in a lump sum or retain her on the company’s payroll system for administration purposes only to process the Statutory Maternity Pay. If during the paid maternity period, subject to the dates, she started working for a new employer then the company’s liability for paying SMP may cease. If the company make a lump sum payment then naturally the company will then have to seek to recover any overpaid amount. However, equally, some employers are not keen to retain employees on the payroll after they have left and there is also the issue of providing the P45.
If for any reason the employee didn’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay then she would be entitled to Statutory Maternity Allowance which she could claim through her local job centre.
As well as the above, she would also be entitled to reasonable paid time off to attend antenatal appointments and it would be advisable to conduct a pregnancy risk assessment to comply with health & safety and ensure she is not placed in any harm working whilst pregnant.
Andrew Macmillan, Solicitor, Motor Industry Legal Services