Occupational Mat Pay, Maternity Allowance and the NHS - now I'm in a pickle!! Please help!

(5 Posts)
lou031205 Tue 08-May-07 15:35:25

Where to start....

I work for the NHS, as a staff nurse, which has an occupational maternity scheme.

Until Jan 2007, I worked 30 hours per week. Weekly income well over SMP threshold.

In Jan 2007 my working hours reduced to 5 hours per week. Weekly income well UNDER SMP threshold.

I am due to give birth in Sept '07.

The situation I am faced with is:

- Do not qualify for SMP (earn too little)
- Do qualify for Maternity Allowance, which based on best earnings in last 66 weeks will pay me for 39 weeks (£112 per week). TOTAL £4368

However, I am also entitled to Occupational Maternity Scheme, which is:
-Full pay for 8 weeks (£50 per week)
-Half pay for 18 weeks (25 per week)
TOTAL £850

BUT by receiving Occupational Maternity Pay, I lose my entitlement to Maternity Allowance. This means that as I am not entitled to SMP, I will also only be paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, not 39.

In addition, receiving Occupational Maternity Pay OBLIGATES ME to return for 3 months, which I am not sure I want to do.

I approached my employers regarding declining Occupational Maternity Pay, and they are not sure if they can NOT pay it.

My questions are:
-Can I be legally forced to receive the NHS Maternity Scheme when, in turn, it OBLIGATES me to return?
-Would declining the Occupational Maternity Pay scheme affect my ability to claim Maternity Allowance (Nothing on the web to suggest this, but lady on JobcentrePlus helpline 'sniffed' about being looked down on for 'deliberately accessing public funds!')
-If I DO take Occupational Mat Pay, where does that leave me with regards the last 13 weeks when I would not be paid a penny?

Sorry to ramble, but as you can see, the difference between £850 and £4350 is huge! Also, I can't see the sense in accepting a loss of £3500 (Equivilant to 1 year & 18 week's salary) which will in turn force me to return to work.

On the other hand, I don't want to be forced to make a decision and resign from work when I don't know that that is what I want, and we will need some income after maternity leave.

If any one can shed some light, I would be very grateful. I am nearly 22 weeks, so time desperately short!!

Louise & bump (21+5)

lou031205 Tue 08-May-07 15:46:43

I've just found this, in the DWP technical guidance:

62592 A claimant is not entitled for the time that work was done. Receipt of salary or wages
(but not SMP) during the period of the allowance, such as paid maternity leave, is
not a ground for disqualification. If, however, it is found that a woman entitled to MA
has worked, as an employed or S/E earner, the DM must disqualify MA. Housework
does not count as work for this purpose.

Do you read that as Occupational Maternity Pay should not affect the payment of Maternity Allowance?

LIZS Tue 08-May-07 15:55:13

no I'd read that as you can't actively work and receive MA which is a separate issue. Sorry not familair with the compkxitiies of the proiblem , do you nto have a Human Resources person to discuss it with ? If it were SMP I suspect you could either have both or whichever is higher.

BetsyBoop Tue 08-May-07 19:47:02

Lou - I read that the same as you i.e getting OMP does not mean you can't get MA

I'm in the same boat as you (wasn't at work during the period they work out SMP as I was on a career break (still classed as "employed"), but have enough earnings to qualify for MA & should also qualify for OMP)

I've been hunting the web on this subject & can't find anything that says you can't get OMP & MA - I've even been through the Acts & SIs - - It clearly states you can't get MA & SMP together, but nothing about OMP & MA

If you work you don't get MA, but I'm sure I read somewhere in the stuff I've been trawling through (can't find it again) that says they only stop MA for the weeks you work - so in that case you should at least get MA for the 13 weeks at the end if they class being on OMP as being at "work" - which the stuff you quoted suggests they don't anyway.

I'd ask the DWP lady for the reference to the relevant Act/SI that states you can't get it.

As an alternative, is taking a career break instead of M/L an option for you? That way you wouldn't be paid your OMP, so the issue would disappear.

ANyway I'm rambling - would you mind keeping me posted if you find anything useful out & I'll do the same (I'm on 15wks, so I've got a bit of time yet) Thanks

lou031205 Thu 10-May-07 10:51:48

Hi BetsyB

Well, I have had clarification that although the HR lady hadn't come across it before, I am entitled to refuse the OMP.

In a lot of ways, I am inclined to just do this, as I don't know if I definitely want to go back to work for NHS Trust, and I don't really even want to risk losing out on £3500 for the sake of someone's interpretation of the code.

I have accrued enough clinical hours to secure my re-registration for 2009, and on my current hours of 5 hours per week, I could leave now and not do any nursing until September 2010 to secure my 2012 registration.

So, who knows, might go back after mat leave, might try something different, or if I can afford to lose £50 per week (Budget is precariously balanced at the mo!) might be a SAHM for a couple of years.

Would love to be at home full time. Would mean I went back to work in Sept 2010, when Millie is 4 3/4, and bump is 3!

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