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My employee is pregnant - what do I do? PDF Print E-mail

At Stafftax we deal with domestic employees on maternity leave on a daily basis, and with over 15 years experience we understand the many different situations employers can find themselves in. To help answer some of the most frequently asked questions, we've put together a Q&A (see below), but if you have more questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Q. Is my employee entitled to Maternity leave?
A. Any pregnant employee may take 52 weeks leave regardless of their length of service. If they wish to return before the end of the 52 weeks they must give the employer 8 weeks notice.

Q. What about Maternity pay? How long does my employee have to have worked with me before she becomes entitled to SMP?

A. The employee cannot be pregnant when she starts her new employment. She qualifies for SMP if she has been in the same employment for 26 weeks (i.e. six months) prior to the "notification week". The "notification week" is 15 weeks before the baby's due date.

Q. What is the amount of SMP?
A. See our current rates and thresholds page for the most up-to-date rates.

Q. Who foots the bill for SMP?
A. As a small employer you can usually reclaim all the SMP costs involved. At Stafftax we will calculate and apply to HMRC for your SMP rebate on your behalf. Your employee should provide you with a Maternity Certificate (MATB1) for this purpose. The MATB1 is issued 20 weeks before the baby's due date and your employee can ask their doctor or midwife for it. We will issue payslips for your employee throughout the period of maternity leave, showing SMP paid and any Tax and NI deductions.

Q. Is it reasonable to expect a part-time employee to attend antenatal classes in her own time?

A. She is entitled to paid time off to attend appointments made on the advice of her midwife, health visitor or GP. Except for the first appointment she must be prepared to show the employer the appointment card. She may not be able to arrange appointments on the days of her choice in which case she must be allowed to attend and be paid.

Q. If the pregnant employee is still in her probationary period and the employer are not happy with her as she has had several days off already, can they legally dismiss her?
A. If the sickness is related to her pregnancy then it would be unlawful to dismiss her and the employer could be at risk of a sex discrimination claim. The best approach here is to discuss with her the reasons for her absence, explain the importance of reliability and see how her attendance can be improved.

Q. Does the employee qualify for holiday while she is on maternity leave?
A. Holiday entitlement is accrued as normal throughout the maternity leave (including bank holidays) and is at the employers expense. The only occasions where this may not be payable is if the employee is either made redundant or resigns as she goes on maternity leave.


employment law

Introducing our legal service

Your annual subscription to Stafftax entitles you to unlimited use of our Legal Advice help-line. We encourage you to make as much use of this service as you need to manage your domestic employment relations effectively. If you require clarification or advice about any employment issue, other than payroll, then please call or email the Legal Advice helpline.

The Legal Advice helpline is available to you as an employer and is not available to your employee as this may cause a conflict of interest. However, if you wish to make an enquiry to assist your employee, you may call on their behalf.

What we do
Rather than simply explain what you can and cannot do, our legal team work closely with you and focus on finding solutions to your particular situation and problem. We accept and reply to email enquires and will also offer help with drafting letters (should you require it) at no additional charge to you.

Additionally, should you find yourself in a particularly difficult situation and need more help or support over and above that provided by your subscription, we can arrange for you to meet with a member of the legal team in person and for a special member’s rate they can help resolve the matter directly.

employment costs

National minimum wage & the working time directive

It is a criminal offence for an employer to pay below the national minimum wage, currently carrying a fine of up to £5,000. Domestic staff are however exempt from the measures concerning working hours.