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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.

 

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Benefits in kind

Benefits in kind are sometimes provided by the employer in addition to the employee's salary. They are often taxable benefits and must be reported annually as part of employee's gross earnings.

Who pays the tax?
Benefits in kind offer a good example of why it is important to agree a gross wage with your employee. In almost all other types of employment the employee is always responsible for paying the tax on benefits. But as many domestic staff have net pay arrangements it means that you, the employer, are responsible for paying this tax, which can potentially be a very expensive experience.

Tax on benefits in kind is payable in arrears and is not reported until July following the end of the tax year. Sometimes it can take up to two years before payments are claimed by HMRC, and during the interim your employee can have moved from one job to another, leaving the new employer responsible for paying what can in some cases be a very large sum of money. If your employee is on a gross wage, however, then the tax is deduced from their gross income at their current rate of tax.

In addition to tax there may also be a Class 1A NI charge of 12.8% of the value of the benefit to be paid - the employer always pays this charge.

Examples of taxable benefits

  • Car
  • Accommodation
  • Health Club Membership
  • Travel
  • Interest Free Loan

NB: PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS LIST IS NOT EXHAUSTIVE.

Mobile phones are not considered a taxable benefit

Use of Car
The use of a car is not considered a taxable benefit if your employee only uses it during working hours. If however your employee is permitted to take the car home and use it as a means to get to and from work, then it must be reported as a benefit in kind.

Accommodation
If accommodation is provided for the employee and it has a separate front door and separate metering for gas, water and electricity, it is considered a taxable benefit and must be reported as such.

Please note that the information and examples contained on this page are to be used as guidelines only. If you have specific questions please contact Stafftax.