Maternity Leave Clause in Employment Contracts

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Hannah Williamson

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11 Dec 2020

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All of your female employees have the right to maternity leave in the UK. They have 52 weeks available, with the right to return to their full-time role once it ends.

Staff also have entitlements to their full contractual terms and conditions during their maternity leave. That’s apart from their standard pay.

For maternity leave, a contract of employment must explain the rights your employees have.

So, you’ll need to include a clause with all the relevant information. You can speak to our expert team on 0145 585 8132 for assistance.

You can also learn about how to respond to requests for maternity leave elsewhere on Croner. As well as finding details on the correct maternity pay.

For the clause you need in your employment contracts, you can read this guide—it explains the employment law behind your policy.

Employee maternity leave rights

Employees can take up to a year in maternity leave. This is without consideration for how long they have worked for your business.

They have the aforementioned 52 weeks (one year) available to them. It’s up to the employee how much of that they take. If they want, they can return to work earlier.

Workers don’t have entitlement to maternity leave—those who:

Otherwise, full and part-time employees can request maternity leave. But they must tell you at least 15 weeks before the baby is due.

You’ll need to know they’re pregnant and the expected date of birth. They’ll inform you they want to take maternity leave—as well as when they want it to start and end.

You’ll need to confirm these dates with your employee. Do so in writing so you have a record available.

Your contract of employment maternity clause

In your contract of employment, you should explain how a member of staff can claim the 52 weeks they have available to them.

Below a maternity leave clause in employment contracts example:

*Sample maternity clause*

If an employee becomes pregnant, when she provides her employer with a certificate from a certified medical practitioner stating the presumed date of her confinement, she will have entitlement to maternity leave.

*End of maternity clause sample*

You should adapt this sample for your business’ requirements. And accommodate for the rest of your maternity policy.

Breach of maternity leave clause in employment contracts

It’s essential you avoid breaching any of the contract terms you establish with your employee.

Under the Equality Act 2010, pregnancy and maternity are a protected characteristic (there are eight others).

You should always aim to avoid discrimination in the workplace—so, don’t treat pregnant staff less favourably. And don’t terminate their contract when they inform you they’re pregnant.

This can lead to costly and professionally damaging employment tribunals.

However, from an employee perspective they must also honour your contract of employment terms.

For example, they’ll breach your contract if they continue to take maternity leave past the allowed 52 weeks. That’s unless you agree on an extension to the amount of leave they have.

Employment contract for maternity cover

You may require a fixed-term employment contract for maternity and sickness cover. This will bring in a temporary member of staff to cover for your employee on maternity leave.

It’s essential to provide an employee or worker with a contract of employment, no matter how short their time with your business is.

You must outline your main terms and conditions in this contract. You may hear the term “standard form section one statement” in reference to this fixed-term contract.

New rules about this type of contracted arrived on 6th April, 2020. You must provide a contract that complies with UK law from their first day with you.

It’s important to remember your fixed-term members of staff still have the same rights as your full-time employees or workers.

They also have protection with the Fixed-Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002.

So, you can’t waive any of your fixed-term employee or workers rights. For example, with unfair dismissal.

Expert advice

Do you need help setting up your maternity leave policy? We can help you remain compliant with the law, while respecting your employees’ rights. Call us for quick support: 0145 585 8132.

About the Author

Hannah Williamson is a CIPD Qualified HR professional with over 10 years’ experience in generalist HR management working within the Manufacturing Industry.

Working for a Global manufacturer provided Hannah with the opportunity to work in America and across Europe supporting HR functions and the wider business.

Hannah is Croner’s Advice Manager, taking responsibility for overseeing the provision of advice to all Croner clients, bringing together our Corporate, Simplify and Association service provisions.

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