Pregnant? Do You Know Your Rights As An Employee?
With International Women’s Day came inspiring messages from the likes of Emma Watson, Michelle Obama, and even Donald Trump!
I have tremendous respect for women and the many roles they serve that are vital to the fabric of our society and our economy.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 8, 2017
However, critics of Trump are up in arms because this tweet seems to be in opposition to his comments in 2004 about pregnancy being an “inconvenience for a business”.
With pregnancy in the workplace such a hot topic, you need to be sure of your rights as an employee both during and after pregnancy…
You Are Entitled To Paid Time Off For Antenatal Care
Doctor appointments, hospital appointments and pregnancy scans are essential elements of antenatal care, and you can take time off work for these. But were you also aware that any antenatal or parenting classes that have been recommended by your midwife or doctor are also included under this? For all of these appointments you should be paid your usual salary for the time you need to take off work, though be aware that your employer can ask for written proof of these appointments1.
Did you know? Your baby’s father or your partner is entitled to take time off to attend two of your antenatal appointments, but this will be unpaid.
Your Employer Should Give You A Risk Assessment
Once you have told your employer you are expecting, they should arrange for a risk assessment to establish any specific elements of your work that might put you and your baby at risk. This can include sitting or standing for long periods, long working hours, lifting heavy loads, and exposure to toxic substances. If it is not possible to adapt your work accordingly then your employer should suspend you from work with full pay2.
Are you are interested in finding out more about delivering your baby in a private clinic or hospital? You can browse a selection of the top Childbirth hospitals and clinics on the Private Pregnancy Childbirth listings page.
You Are Entitled To 39 Weeks Paid Maternity Leave
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), for the first six weeks is paid at 90% of your normal salary. After this six week period you will receive either £139.58 per week (April 2016-April 2017) for the remaining 33 weeks, or 90% of your salary – whichever is less. This should be paid in the same way as your salary would usually be paid and your tax and national insurance will continue to be deducted from this3.
However, in order to qualify for this you need to meet certain requirements:
- You need to have worked for your employer for a minimum of 26 weeks up to 15 weeks before the week of your expected due date.
- You need to earn at least £112 per week.
- You’ll need to provide your employer with the correct notice period – 28 days before you want your SMP to begin.
- You will also need to provide proof of pregnancy.
Workaholic? It is up to you to decide when you start your SMP, and although you can work up until the day your baby is born, HMRC states: “if the employee isn’t taking Statutory Maternity Leave, they must take two weeks off after the baby is born”4. If you just can’t help yourself, you can work up to 10 days during your SMP, but both you and your employer will need to agree to this. Your right to leave isn’t affected by this5.
Although not a pleasant thought, it it worth being aware that in the event that your baby be stillborn after the 24th week or dies after being born, you are still entitled to leave and SMP.
Did you know? The earliest you can begin your SMP is 11 weeks before the expected week of birth.
You Can Request Flexible Working
All employees have a right to ask for flexible6 working but once you return to work after SMP, it may be particularly useful for you. Flexible working includes job sharing, working some of your week from home, working part time, working compressed hours, flexitime, annualised hours, and working staggered hours7.
You’ll need to make an application for flexible working which will be considered by your employer. They will assess the advantages and disadvantages and will want to to sit down and have a chat with you about the request.
You should be aware that if there is a good business reason for doing so, your employer can refuse the application, but you have the right to appeal this.
Your Rights Are Protected Whilst On Maternity Leave
Your contractual holiday, right to pay and returning to your job are all protected during your maternity leave. You are protected against unfair treatment, discrimination and dismissal – that also includes redundancy.
Your employer cannot change your contract terms and conditions without agreement.
Did you know? You are entitled to free prescriptions and dentist appointments during pregnancy and up to 12 months after birth8.