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Maternity Leave Compensation Claim Solicitors
The right to maternity leave is enshrined in law however that doesn't stop some employers from totally ignoring a pregnant woman's legal rights and in some cases the pregnancy becomes a reason for an employer to use every ruse possible to effect a termination of employment and subsequent dismissal. Unlawful behaviour by an employer aimed at a pregnant woman may result in a compensation claim to an Employment Tribunal on the grounds of sexual discrimination or unfair dismissal which in either case attracts awards of damages that are unlimited. There are strict time limits for applications to the Employment Tribunal and if you are pregnant and have been treated unlawfully by your employer you should urgently seek advice from a specialist employment law solicitor.
Pregnancy Leave Legislation
Pregnant women are automatically entitled to 26 weeks' "Ordinary Maternity Leave" ('OML'), regardless of how long they have worked for their employer and regardless of whether they are part time or full time employees. This means that they are entitled to return to the same job after the 26 weeks has elapsed, unless a legitimate redundancy situation has arisen during that time*. All pregnant women are entitled to paid time off for ante-natal care and relaxation/craft/parent classes and are not required to make up their hours, even if they work part time.
Women on 'OML' are entitled to all their usual terms and conditions of employment (except pay) throughout their absence. Examples include employer pension contributions, accrued holiday entitlement, private health insurance, and private use of company car or mobile phone.
Women who have been employed for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week prior to the expected week of birth ("EWOB") will also be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay** (or Maternity Allowance), a further 26 weeks unpaid leave ("Additional Maternity Leave ('AML')), and the right to return to the same job, unless a legitimate redundancy situation has arisen during that time. However, if it is not "reasonably practicable" for them to return to their original job, they are entitled to be offered suitable alternative work, the only exception to this applying to employers with five or fewer employees.
Women on AML are not entitled to their usual terms and conditions of employment, but continue to be entitled to the obligation of trust, confidence and good faith, contractual notice periods, contractual rights to redundancy pay, and contractual terms and conditions relating to disciplinary or grievance procedures.
Both 'OML' and 'AML' count as continuous employment for the purpose of qualifying for statutory employment rights, and all employees are entitled to benefit from any salary increases or improved benefits that were introduced while they were away. However, only 'OML' counts as continuous employment for the purposes of assessing seniority, pensionable service and other personal benefits relating to length of service such as salary increases.
By the 15th week prior to the expected week of birth, pregnant women must have informed their employer that they are pregnant, when the baby is due, and the date their absence will begin (which can be any time after the beginning of the 11th week prior to the EWOB). However 'OML' begins automatically if the baby is born any time prior to the notified date. If they wish to change the date on which 'OML' is due to begin, employees must notify their employer at least 28 days in advance unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so.
Employers must respond in writing and within 28 days of receiving notification from the employee concerned, stating the date on which they expect her to return to work, allowing the full entitlement of either 26 or 52 weeks. They must also provide written notification of the date the period of leave will end, and if the employee wishes to return sooner than the notified date, she must provide at least 28 days' notice to her employer. However, there is a compulsory minimum of two weeks' maternity leave after childbirth, or four weeks for factory workers.
Women who have had at least one year's length of service are entitled to take up to 13 weeks' unpaid parental leave, with a maximum of four weeks' entitlement in any one year. The first block can begin immediately after the end of maternity leave. The same rights regarding return to work apply to parental leave.
Maternity Leave Solicitors
Specialist employment law solicitors operate exclusively in all areas of dispute between employees and employers and they do nothing else which enables them to achieve your goals in the most efficient and practical way possible. They are able to pursue or negotiate a claim on your behalf and can provide representation anywhere in the United Kingdom. If you would like an initial free consultation for advice to find out whether you have a good case, how to go about claiming and how much your compensation might be worth you can call the helpline or complete the contact form or email our offices. If after talking to a specialist lawyer you decide not to take matters further you are under no obligation to do so and you will not be charged for our initial advice session.