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complicated maternity leave situation, unsure of the legalities.... any opinions/advice?

(8 Posts)
sunshineoutdoors Thu 26-May-11 18:20:50

Hi, I'm 29 + 3 and work in a primary school as a teaching assistant. I am contracted for 30 hours per week for this role. When I started the job I was also given the option to be a lunchtime supervisor (watch the kids in the playground) for 2 and a half hours per week. I accepted this and was given a separate contract on a different pay scale for this job. My lunch break as a teaching assistant is an hour, but half an hour of this I currently spend in the playground in my lunchtime supervisor role.

This week I have started to find it is too much spending half an hour of my lunch break on the playground. I am having to eat my lunch fast and then get up and walk around the playground taking responsibility for the children's safety and welfare. I have started feeling pretty sick from eating and immediately getting up and the indigestion and heartburn are not pleasant at all. I feel like I need the full hour off to eat my lunch slowly and conserve my energy to do my TA job well in the afternoon.

I am due to commence my maternity leave at 36 weeks. I would like to keep working as a TA until this time, however I would like to stop working as a lunchtime supervisor after half term next week (at 31 weeks). I spoke to my head teacher and she and other members of staff are fine with this. However, the education authority that pays my wages are saying that I can't start maternity leave on one job before the other. So I either need to keep working both jobs and start both maternity leaves at the same time, or I have been told I can quit the lunchtime supervisor job and terminate that contract.

If I do quit that job it means I won't get my maternity pay for that role. Even though it's only 2 1/2 hours per week that works out at about £60 extra per month. It doesn't seem fair to me that I would not get my maternity pay for this job because I am too pregnant to do it but they won't let me start my maternity leave.

They say that it is a health and safety issue.... if I am on maternity leave for one role and something happened to me in the other role this would cause an issue (possibly leave them liable if something happened?). I can understand this but I don't see how it makes them less liable if they know I have quit one job because of my pregnancy yet they still let me continue the other one?

I think I would like to seek some legal advice before I either a) agree to carry on a job that I don't feel fit to do because of my pregnancy or b) quit a job that I have worked for a year and a half and therefore give up my maternity pay. Does anyone know where I stand on this issue? I don't like kicking up a fuss but this does seem quite unfair. What do you think? Do you know where I can get (free) legal advice about this? I know it's only a small amount of money but £50 a month extra maternity pay would make a difference tbh.

Sorry for long post, if you've managed to get to the end would love to hear what you think.

flowery Thu 26-May-11 19:48:51

If the headteacher and other staff are ok about it, any reason you can't go on unpaid leave from the first job for the next few weeks?

MovingAndScared Thu 26-May-11 22:06:04

hi - have they done a risk assesement for you - they should of done one - and perhaps revisit it

sunshineoutdoors Fri 27-May-11 07:22:51

Thank you - unpaid leave is a great idea, I hadn't thought of that! Will check my risk assessment. It's great to be able to get advice on this site.

Finbar Fri 27-May-11 07:40:52

My initial gut reaction ( without researching) is that the contracts are separate and you have the right to take maternity leave from the lunchtime supervisor when you want, as long as it's within the rules of the mat leave scheme.

Your contract will have a date on them called "date of continuous government service" and the dates may be different because you started them at different times - this reinforces the position that they are separate. So, for example if a person had five years service in one role and only 4 months in the other then the provision for maternity leave could be different for each role. They can't have it both ways. I may be wrong but natural justice suggests teh contracts are separate.

Have a look at your contracts. Also are yo u in a Union? ACas may be able to help ( free helpline) thought they won't necessarily be experts local government rules.
I will watch this thread and see what comes back

flowery Fri 27-May-11 11:11:38

If your employer is the same are you quite certain HMRC will see this as two jobs? Or is your questions purely related to whatever enhanced maternity pay is offered?

evieS Fri 27-May-11 14:39:37

You've got two separate contracts. You have rights flowing separately from each contract. It is quite conceivable - though unusual - that you may be fit to discharge duties for one job though not the other. It is illegal (equality legislation applies here) to force you to resign from one job - the resignation would have been forced upon you for pregnancy related reasons and pregnancy is absolutely a protected characteristic under the law. Remind them of this when you next speak to them. Suggest that they are being unreasonable. There may well be a compromise to be struck vis-a-vis the very sensible unpaid leave suggestion above. You're only talking about 5 weeks - and it would be very unreasonable of them not to come and go a little bit.

sunshineoutdoors Mon 30-May-11 06:48:53

Thank you for all your replies. I am taking unpaid leave for 5 weeks from the lunchtime supervisor job and then starting both my maternity leaves at 36 weeks. Am so glad there is a solution to this. I earn about £70 a month from the job (before tax) and didn't want to lose the maternity pay, especially when it's 90% for first 6 weeks.
Thanks again for your help, I'm happy and not stressed now... 25 more school days to go and then my maternity leave begins!

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