A pregnant employee is required to inform her employer of her pregnancy by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC).
However, bearing in mind that rights such as the entitlement to take paid time off for antenatal care, risk assessments and protection from discrimination or dismissal won’t kick in until an employer is made aware of a pregnancy, it makes sense to inform the school of pregnancy at a relatively early stage.
When formally notifying the school, the following information will need to be given:
- The fact of the pregnancy;
- The expected week of childbirth; and
- The date on which the employee intends to begin their ordinary maternity leave (OML). This should be no earlier than the beginning of the 11th week before the EWC.
An employee can choose to start maternity leave on any day from the 11th week before her expected week of childbirth.
All employees are entitled to 52 weeks’ statutory maternity leave, made up of 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity leave (OML) and 26 weeks’ additional maternity leave (AML).
Statutory maternity pay (SMP)
An employee is entitled to SMP where she has:
- Twenty-six weeks’ continuous employment with the employer by the 15th week before the EWC; and
- Average earnings of at least the lower earnings limit for National Insurance during the eight-week period ending with the 15th week before EWC (£116 per week, April 2018-2019).
SMP is payable for 39 weeks at these rates:
- Ninety per cent of average earnings for six weeks; and
- The “prescribed rate” for 33 weeks (£145.18 from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019).
Once the school has received notice of the date the employee wishes to start her maternity leave, it then has 28 days to notify her of the date her maternity leave will end (which is 52 weeks from the start of maternity leave).
The school may require a pregnant employee to produce a MAT B1 certificate from a doctor or midwife, confirming the EWC.
If the employee wishes to claim SMP then this certificate will generally need to be provided no later than the end of the third week of the SMP period.
Alice Reeve is partner at Veale Wasbrough Vizards