Maternity Pay for Agency Workers: What Do You Need to Know?


06 Aug 2018


Do you know about maternity pay for agency workers? An agency worker has a contract with an agency—as you'd expect. But the agency worker works for a hirer on a temporary basis, for example, a 12-week contract. There are different types of agencies out there, such as recruitment, modelling, and entertainment to name but a few. Of course, many female workers who have a contract with an agency will get pregnant. So, do you get maternity pay on a temporary contract, such as when working for an agency?

Qualifying Criteria: How Can Agency Workers Get Statutory Maternity Pay?

For an agency worker to qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), they must:

  • Have told the agency about their pregnancy, and the date upon which they expect their SMP to start.
  • They have earned at least (or above) the current Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) in an eight-week period. As of 2018/19, the Lower Earnings Limit is £116 per week.
  • Be involved with the same agency for a continuous 26 weeks by the start of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. She must remain engaged by the same agency in the qualifying week.

If an agency worker is unable to accumulate 26 weeks' continuous engagement because they're on paid annual leave, or they're off for sickness, or the agency has no work to offer, then they can still qualify for SMP.

Maternity Rights For Agency Workers

It is illegal to discriminate against agency workers on the following grounds. The agency worker:

  • Is pregnant.
  • Gave birth within the last six months.
  • Is breastfeeding.

The following actions are also examples of discrimination if to do with the agency worker's pregnancy:

  • Agency refuses to place the worker in a job.
  • Hirer refuses to hire the agency worker.
  • Hirer terminates the job because the agency worker is pregnant.
  • Agency refuses to keep the pregnant worker on their books.
  • Agency only offers the pregnant worker short jobs, saving the longer opportunities for other agency workers.
  • Hirer refuses to let the worker come back because the worker took leave for their maternity.

Health Risks To Agency Workers

A hirer should make reasonable adjustments so that a pregnant worker or new mother worker can do their job successfully. If this is not possible, the agency must find alternative work for the worker, or pay the worker at the same rate for what would've been the length of the contract.

Antenatal Care For Agency Workers

Once an agency worker has 12 weeks in one job, they can get paid time off to attend antenatal care if it's not possible for the worker to arrange the antenatal care outside of their working hours. They will also be eligible for pay if their travel time is during their working hours. Antenatal care includes antenatal classes, appointments, and—if a doctor or midwife recommends them—parenting classes.

Maternity Leave For Agency Workers

Agency workers cannot take maternity leave, adoption leave, or shared parental leave. Currently, only people with the employment status of employee have access to these rights.

Talk To An Expert

If you want to know about maternity pay for full-time employees, read our guide here. Or for information about maternity allowance if you're self-employed, click here. For more information about maternity pay for temporary workers, contact our employment law experts today on 0808 145 3382.

Free to Download Employer Resources

  • Pay Awards & Forecast (September 2018)


    Pay Awards & Forecast (September 2018...

    Read Croner Reward's expert settlement and forecast report for September 2018

    Read more
  • Sample Health & Safety Policy Statement


    Sample Health & Safety Policy Stateme...

    Here we’ve included a free sample Health & Safety Policy Statement that UK business owners can refer to.

    Read more
  • Pay Awards & Forecast (June 2018)


    Pay Awards & Forecast (June 2018)

    Read Croner Reward's expert Settlements and Forecasts report for June 2018

    Read more
  • How Much Does Employee Turnover Cost Your Business?


    How Much Does Employee Turnover Cost ...

    A recent Glassdoor survey revealed that almost 35% of hiring professionals expec...

    Read more
  • Staff Turnover: What Do You Need to Know?


    Staff Turnover: What Do You Need to K...

    Having a high worker turnover can have mean two things: A negative impact on you...

    Read more
  • What is Wrongful Dismissal?


    What is Wrongful Dismissal?

    If you breach an employee’s contract, you could be liable for wrongful dismissal...

    Read more
  • bemrose-school-derby


    Bemrose School Derby

    “Having Croner-i saves us a lot of time and money, as we do not have to use cred

    Read more
  • wmtr



    “I’d definitely recommend the Croner OnSite services and I have done already, I

    Read more
  • certikin



    “Our Distribution Manager had a particularly technical query relating to respira

    Read more

Ready to focus on what you do best?

Get your free consultation and speak to an expert today.