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Maternity leave and sickness

(36 Posts)
Stella8234 Fri 15-Mar-13 16:53:40

Just a general enquiry really because I'm so stressed out about the situation I am in with my employer. I work as a registered nurse for our local nhs foundation trust. I am currently 27 weeks pregnant and about 7 weeks ago I was diagnosed with SPD. I have been unable to work for the past 2 weeks as my mobilityhas been seriously affected. The physio and doctor both say physically I can no longer do my job and my gp signed me off on long term sick as they say the problem will get worse rather than better. I contacted my employer yesterday and informed them of the situation to be told they will commence my maternity leave early- 11 weeks prior to EDD. Does anyone know if they can legally do this? And if they can do this will I be able to request to return to work instead and do very light duties to prevent this from happening as I don't want to lose the time with my baby, it's too precious!

FattyMcChubster Fri 15-Mar-13 16:56:48

Yes they can I'm afraid. Don't know the specifics but it's legit.

BabyRoger Fri 15-Mar-13 16:57:06

No. They can't. If you are ill in the last 4 weeks they can start your leave - not the last 11 weeks.

See this website:

www.maternityaction.org.uk/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/sicknessduringpregnancymaternityleave.pdf

Phone your HR Department.

MirandaWest Fri 15-Mar-13 16:58:26

I thought if you were ill in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy ie from week 36 you could be made to start maternity leave early which would suggest you couldn't from 29 weeks. Will try and find more to support my feeling

MirandaWest Fri 15-Mar-13 16:58:55

Ah cross posts with someone who knows more than I do smile

BabyRoger Fri 15-Mar-13 16:59:27

It is definitely 4 weeks OP - not 11. Phone your HR. An NHS HR Department will know all about this.

BabyRoger Fri 15-Mar-13 17:01:02
FattyMcChubster Fri 15-Mar-13 17:02:23

Sorry, I was led to believe it was longer. Apologies.

I answered on your other thread and agree they cant start your leave at 29 weeks, only if you're off with a pregnancy related illness in the last 4 weeks before your EDD. You could be off sick until your maternity leave is due to start and ot would start automatically 4 weeks before your due date if you were still off with the SPD.

Stella8234 Fri 15-Mar-13 17:17:34

I tried ringing my HR department several times today and they said they would get back to me but didn't. I also tried contacting my local branch of unison as I am a member but no-one answered the phone. I contacted my modern matron to clarify if they definitely could the secretary said they'd ring me back and no response. I tried contacting maternity action helpline but they only work limited hours so I contacted a group called ACAS and they said with nhs employees having other benefits it may affect my maternity leave. There's a girl who works a similar job to me she said they enforced she commenced maternity leave at 29 weeks. I just don't know what to do.

BabyRoger Fri 15-Mar-13 17:21:04

I'm surprised at ACAS! Your 'other benefits' with working for the NHS relate to occupational maternity pay.

Try not to panic. Wait for your HR Dept and Unison to call you back. They cannot force you into maternity leave until you are 4 weeks before your due date.

If neither call back, call HR and Unison again on Monday.

Stella8234 Fri 15-Mar-13 17:21:47

I have read on several government and legal websites that it is for me to choose when to start maternity leave after 29 weeks of pregnancy and the employer can only trigger my maternity leave to start 4 weeks prior to EDD if I'm off sick but now I don't know what to believe.

Stella8234 Fri 15-Mar-13 17:24:54

So do u think ACAS is wrong baby roger? I can't understand how you should be penalised because of what your occupation is. Surely maternity leave is for the benefit of the babys development as well as the mothers recovery so I can't see how cutting it short by starting it off early will help either if us.

from the hmrc Employer Helpbook for Statutory Maternity Pay: (get them to call the number at the bottom if they refuse to believe that they can't start your maternity leave at 29 weeks)

Pregnancy-related absence

If the employee is absent from work because of her
pregnancy and the absence *continues into or starts within
the four-week period* starting on the Sunday of the 4th
week before the week baby due, see the tables on pages
33 and 34, there are special rules for when her leave
starts and when you start to pay.

The SMP pay period and her maternity leave start on the
day after the first complete day of absence from work
because of her pregnancy within the four-week period.
This may mean that you have to pay a mixture of wages
and SMP at the beginning or end of the period.

If you are not sure whether the employee’s absence is
caused by her pregnancy contact any HMRC office or the
Employer Helpline for advice on 08457 143 143.

Stella8234 Fri 15-Mar-13 17:45:07

Thanks Ilovepowerhoop. Just want to be armed with relevant information when I speak to my employer on Monday. Can't understand why they would want to cause me so much stress over the weekend.

Stella8234 Fri 15-Mar-13 18:15:47

Well I've just been informed by one of my work colleagues they can start maternity leave off 11 weeks from EDD because it's in work policy :-/

BabyFaker Fri 15-Mar-13 18:20:54

At my work place it is 11 weeks - same as your employer OP

but surely they can't go against what the government has set out in legislation.

p.s. the earliest you can start maternity leave is 29 weeks but work cant force you to start it then

Stella8234 Fri 15-Mar-13 18:34:06

Can't even download my work policy at home to check.

pinkbear82 Fri 15-Mar-13 18:36:38

I think it has something to do with SSP - if you only get that from work I think they can put you on mat leave from 29 weeks. I'm in a similar position. Try phoning your CMW they should be able to help you understand it all. Think it does all depend on work policy too.

no they cant! if you only got SSP then it would may affect your maternity pay. They cannot make you start 11 weeks early even if it is in the works policy as it is against government legislation.

BabyFaker Fri 15-Mar-13 18:41:29

Perhaps the difference is:

Off sick - enforce SMP 11 weeks before

Off sick for PREGNANCY RELATED reasons - 4 weeks

It's not clear is it?

Or perhaps it depends on your employer's maternity package? If you are only entitled to SMP then it's 4 weeks. If there is enhanced maternity it's 11 weeks.

www.maternityaction.org.uk/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/sicknessduringpregnancymaternityleave.pdf - you have the right to sick pay during pregnancy in the normal way. They can only start your maternity leave/pay in the last 4 weeks. It is the law and work policy doesnt trump that!

BabyFaker Fri 15-Mar-13 19:07:13

Interesting... I can understand a small business getting it wrong but not the nhs/public sector!

nomoreplease Fri 15-Mar-13 19:10:58

I work in the nhs and seem to remember that this is the vase I am afraid.

You could ask to be redeployed to work somewhere maybe scrutinising notes, that's what we generally do to people who can't fulfil their roles. That or reception and answering the phones.

onedev Fri 15-Mar-13 19:17:29

Has the law changed recently? I work for a large FTSE 20 company who is a v responsible employer, with an excellent maternity policy & when I was managing a few pregnant ladies a few years ago, I could have forced them to start maternity leave at 29 weeks (although I chose not to) given their pregnancy related illnesses.

That was definitely allowed at the time & it wouldn't have been, had it been against legislation!

Sorry Op, not v helpful but it was perfectly legal a few years ago. Hope you get to the bottom of it.

if she is signed off sick she wont need redeployed, just her sick pay until she starts maternity leave! (when she wants to start it or at 4 weeks before EDD as it would be triggered by pregnancy sickness absence)

another nhs document: www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/About/FreedomOfInformation/FOIPublicationScheme/~/media/Files/FreedomOfInformationDocuments/OurPoliciesAndProcedures/HR2011/Positive_Management_of_Attendance_Policy.ashx

11. Pregnancy related illness/sickness

11.1 For pregnant employees, non-pregnancy related sickness absence will be
recorded in the normal way.

11.2 For pregnant employees, time off work due to a pregnancy related illness
will be recorded separately and, although it will be included when
reviewing the employee’s attendance record and triggering PMA reviews, it
will not be counted towards any absence caution or other penalty.

11.3 All sickness absences, even if pregnancy-related, will be paid according to the employee’s sickness entitlement, which remains unchanged.

11.4 A pregnant employee absent with a pregnancy-related illness must follow
the normal absence reporting procedure and provide medical
certification/fit note as would be required for non-pregnancy related illness.
Their line manager will carry out a return to work interview after a period of
absence in order to provide support or to consider any adjustments that
could be made to help the employee.

*11.5 If the employee is off work with a pregnancy related illness during the last 4 weeks before the expected week of childbirth, the NHS Direct Maternity
Leave Policy will be followed*.

11.6 OH advice may be sought to clarify pregnancy related absence; especially if absences are frequent; and/or where a pregnant employee requests a change of working pattern outside normal working arrangements, during her pregnancy.

pinkbear82 Fri 15-Mar-13 19:56:20

It's so confusing! I'm not NHS and 29 weeks next week with pregnancy related illness.

just claim normal sick pay then. They cannot make you start maternity leave at 29 weeks.

Stella8234 Sat 16-Mar-13 08:38:19

That's what I thought I lovepowerhoop but from what my colleagues have said this is not the case. GP says I'm not fit for work so going to have to request occ health risk assessment to see if there's anyway I can get back on minimal duties. I wouldn't care that was my intention but everyone kept telling me not to bother because my mobility is so bad. Feels like I've been tricked into early maternity.

My job is very tiring, do I have to take sick leave or maternity leave?

You should not have to take sick leave if you are well enough to go to work. Taking sick leave unnecessarily can reduce your maternity pay (if you receive SSP) or can trigger your maternity leave early (from 36weeks). You are entitled to health and safety protection during your pregnancy. Your employer should look at whether there are any risks to your health and safety, for example, standing for long periods. Your employer has a duty to make reasonable
adjustments to your job and to alter your working conditions or hoursof work. If there is still a risk to your health and safety your employer must offer you suitable alternative work or suspend you on full pay. For more information, see Health and safety during pregnancy and on return to work.

Can I work up to the birth of my baby?

Yes, it is up to you to choose when you wish to start your maternity leave. You can work up to the birth and your employer must continue to monitor any health and safety risks at work up to the birth. If you are off sick with a pregnancy-related illness or suspended on health and safety grounds in the last 4 weeks your employer can start your maternity leave.

Your colleagues are wrong and the law is what is stated above - if they cant find you suitable alternative work you could be suspended on full pay, or you could have your sick leave until maternity leave starts. The cant make you start maternity leave at 29 weeks. The laws are there to protect your rights as a pregnant woman and they may not be fully aware of them or are interpreting them wrongly.

BabyRoger Sat 16-Mar-13 13:29:49

Speak to your unison rep and hr on Monday. I'm sure you'll find they say they cannot start your leave until 4 weeks before due date. The law is clear about this.

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