Katharine-KellyKatharine Kelly discusses the basics of maternity leave and identifies potential pitfalls for employers.

The purpose of maternity leave legislation is to allow a mother to give birth, recover and have time to bond with her child.

Every pregnant employee is entitled to fifty-two weeks’ maternity leave around the time of the birth of her child, regardless of length of service. At the end of her maternity leave period she is entitled to resume her normal job on the same terms and conditions as before.

It is against the law to dismiss, or select for redundancy, a pregnant employee by reason of pregnancy. Such treatment will constitute grounds for an unfair dismissal and/or a sex discrimination claim.

Maternity leave legislation and policy can be a minefield for an employer to decipher and it is crucial that a clear and unambiguous maternity policy is put in place to provide clarity in this area. A well drafted policy will provide you with a degree of certainty that will in turn provide for a better employer-employee relationship. Most importantly, however, it will ensure that your business stays within the law and ensure that maternity leave does not leave your business suffering.

We can assist you in developing a tailor made maternity policy, to include details on maternity pay, for your business that will reduce the prospect of future claims and in the event that a claim is made in the Employment Tribunal you will have a strong defence that your actions were fair and reasonable. Call us on 08000 832 832 for assistance in providing a long term solution for your business.

Read more about maternity leave here.