In October 2006 the law changed in relation to working mothers who are due to give birth on or after 1 April 2007. Now that date is fast approaching Victoria Parry gives us a reminder of what changes are in store.
In October last year the law changed in relation to mothers who are due to give birth on or after 1 April 2007. As the 1 April is now upon us, a brief reminder of the changes that these bring in:
- Increased statutory maternity pay (SMP), statutory adoption pay ("SAP") and maternity allowance: This will increase from 26 weeks to 9 months. Don't forget that the additional leave will be paid at the lower statutory rate and most of this should be recoverable form the Revenue.
- Removal of the qualifying period for additional maternity leave ("AML"): All employees will qualify for 12 months' maternity leave, regardless of their length of service. Previously all pregnant employees were entitled to six months' ordinary maternity leave ("OML") and only those with the requisite service were entitled to one year.
- Longer notice to be given before returning early from AML: if a woman wishes to return early from AML she will have to give not less than 8 weeks' notice instead of the current 28 days. This will allow employees and employers to plan more effectively for return to work.
- "Keeping in Touch" days: employees on maternity leave can agree to work up to 10 days during their statutory maternity leave without bringing their leave to an end. These days are designed to improve the situation and allow contact with the workplace to be maintained. They can be taken at any time during maternity leave other than during the 2 weeks compulsory leave immediately following the birth.
- Reasonable contact: the new regulations make it explicit that employers are entitled to make "reasonable contact" with an employee while she is on maternity leave without such contact bringing the leave to an end.
If you have not already made changes to your maternity leave policy to take account of the new rights, then it will need to be updated to incorporate information on them.