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Pregnant on zero contract hours.

(125 Posts)
MrsBryan Thu 20-Feb-14 10:15:54

Are my work allowed to ask me if I am pregnant?

I am going to ttc in April and don't foresee any problems with that side of things but I have been looking at my rights as a zero contract employee and they seem to be completely none existent with regards to maternity leave.

It looks like the best thing I can do is wait until I am 25 weeks before telling them I am pregnant.

Can anyone advise me on this? It's a minefield out there!!

flowery Thu 20-Feb-14 10:17:56

Not sure why you think your rights are non existent if you are an employee, just because you happen to have zero contract hours.

If you are a casual worker, your rights are limited, but if you are an employee you are entitled to maternity leave and maternity pay (if applicable) same as anyone else.

In answer to your specific question, they can ask if they want but you don't have to tell them and can't be penalised for not telling them.

Do you have any particular reason to think they'll ask or will treat you less favourably for being pregnant?

MrsBryan Thu 20-Feb-14 10:19:13

If I tell them I am pregnant at 12 weeks (as would be normal in this type of physical job) then they can reduce my hours to zero in my qualifying weeks and pay me no maternity pay.

That's what is worrying me.

FluffySocksAndMarshmallows Thu 20-Feb-14 10:22:20

I'd do the same as you - tell them at 25 weeks, unless you'll need them to make adjustments for you.

flowery Thu 20-Feb-14 10:33:03

If they reduce your hours because of your pregnancy in an attempt to avoid paying maternity pay if you otherwise would have had more hours that would be unlawful discrimination.

They can claim back most of SMP anyway from HMRC, or even more than 100% if they are a small enough business.

I would be concerned about waiting too long if the nature of your job means you should be notifying them for your health and safety.

flowery Thu 20-Feb-14 10:33:59

Even if you don't earn enough during the qualifying period for SMP, you may well be entitled to maternity allowance anyway, which is very similar to SMP, only without the initial 6 weeks at 90%.

RedToothBrush Thu 20-Feb-14 10:34:25

You would be entitled to something no matter what.

1) They only pay you SMP - and then are paid back by the government to cover that. They will not be out of pocket for that.
2) If you don't get paid enough in the period to qualify for SMP you WOULD be eligible for Maternity Allowance provided you had worked for 26 weeks out of the 66 before your due date (so provided you have 26 weeks of work before you get pregnant you are fine).
3) They can't legally reduce your hours to stop you working because you are pregnant unless you ask for fewer because you are struggling. They have to legally treat you the same as other members of staff.
4) Both SMP and MA have a minimum amount you will be paid, if you qualify for them.

MrsBryan Thu 20-Feb-14 10:40:31

Sorry I seem to be getting false information here. They can legally reduce my hours to anything they want, I am on zero contracted hours.

If they reduce my hours to zero I don't get my 6 weeks at 90% which is vital to us.

I have looked online until I am blue in the face and it is absolutely not sound advice to suggest to me that they would be acting unlawfully to reduce my hours, that is the nature of the contracts and the nature of the job.

MrsBryan Thu 20-Feb-14 10:41:30

Anyway, even if it was 'unlawful' it would cost me thousands to prove that and let's face it, I don't have thousands.

Poloholo Thu 20-Feb-14 10:45:37

Op the information isn't wrong. Whilst you are on a zero hours contract, if they were to decrease or wipe out your hours to avoid paying maternity pay then that would be pregnancy discrimination. But you're right that you'd have to prove that which would be expensive if you had to make a tribunal claim.

WeeClype Thu 20-Feb-14 10:52:30

I was on a zero hour contract, I was told that I would qualify for maternity pay.....2 weeks before I was due to go on maternity leave I was told by HR that I didn't have enough continuous weeks angry, I was 2 weeks short!! Very stressful time waiting on word back about Maternity Allowance.

SoooooooHugelyExcited Thu 20-Feb-14 10:55:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrsBryan Thu 20-Feb-14 11:21:50

How would I possibly prove that they had reduced my hours because I was pregnant?

In the job I do there are so many reasons why hours would be reduced, much of what I do is 'overtime' so they would just stop offering me that and slowly reduce my hours down to very little.

Anyway, it is not worth the gamble and certainly not provable if they were to use it against me.

flowery Thu 20-Feb-14 12:34:56

If you're going to assume advice people give you on here is "false information" why ask?

As to how you'd prove a reduction in your hours was because of pregnancy, well if over the period of, say, a year, your hours average out at x, and with no other business reason that dips significantly for the qualifying period, I'd say you would have a good argument and the onus would then be on them to demonstrate that your pregnancy and avoiding SMP liabilities was completely irrelevant.

Not sure what "gamble" you think you'd be taking, or why you are assuming raising the question will automatically cost you thousands.

<shrug>

MrsBryan Thu 20-Feb-14 12:40:30

Well because a tribunal costs at least £1200 and with extra costs you are easily looking at another £800 on top of that. Regardless of who wins, that is money that you have to find in the interim.

I actually hoped I would hear from people who were familiar with zero-hour contracts and could give me reasonable advice about being pregnant while on them and what to expect. I did not expect to hear advice that contradicts every piece of advice I have been given prior to writing on here.

I can find no one, anywhere who advocates informing before 25 weeks as the qualifying weeks are week 16-24 and you need to make sure that you are working as much as you can in this time to get your correct maternity package.

I am amazed that I am being told differently here, quite worrying really.

RedToothBrush Thu 20-Feb-14 13:19:54

Like Flowery said, why bother asking if you are going to turn round and tell everyone they are wrong and bang on about tribunals.

FWIW, most of the time you can get a free first consultation with a solicitor in this case, and many do take on cases, on the basis of a no win no fee basis. Thus making your second argument something of a mute point.

However I have no doubt given your attitude you'll find something with that bit of information and whine that its not fair and you have no rights when you quite clearly do and simply are making a song and dance about nothing.

flowery Thu 20-Feb-14 13:44:49

I'm very familiar with zero hours contracts thanks.

I'm amazed given the physical nature of your job, that no one else has recommended you tell your employer sooner than 25 weeks tbh.

And if you find it worrying that I'm suggesting prioritizing your and your baby's health over a possibility you may lose a bit of maternity pay then we obviously have different priorities. Doesn't make me wrong.

I've explained your rights and what your redress is should they be breached, but as this advice doesn't fit into the victim mode you've put yourself in, I'm sure you'll ignore it.

You're welcome, by the way. hmm

MrsBryan Thu 20-Feb-14 13:50:22

I will look out for the welfare of my own child thank you.

And the rest of my children which includes not loosing vast amounts of maternity pay.

I'm not sure you are familiar with the type of cowboys offering zero hour contracts at the moment, they will do anything to save a buck.

I don't intend on taking anyone to court, I just want to make sure I am not missing anything. I am not asking for advice on when to tell my work I am pregnant, I am asking for advice on whether they have a right to ask me if I am pregnant.

I will thank you when you answer the question I have asked, rather than trying to tell me to do something that is at worst going to throw my family and I into poverty as we introduce a new addition into the family. What is worrying is that you obviously give this advice to other people who are in the same boat.

MrsBryan Thu 20-Feb-14 13:53:30

By the way, I have told 'everyone' they are wrong. I have rightly contested advice I have been given which is quite damaging for me.

Hopefully if someone else in the same position reads this thread they will not take such advice at face value and look a bit further afield.

flowery Thu 20-Feb-14 13:59:19

I answered your question in my first post.

At least it's reassuring that your very strange responses are a result of not reading the thread.

I didn't advise you to do anything. I said I would be concerned about waiting until 25 weeks in a physical job.

MrsBungle Thu 20-Feb-14 14:00:09

Op flowery answered your question in her first post.

They can ask you - you do not have to tell them. It would be unlawful for them to penalise you for not telling them.

MrsBungle Thu 20-Feb-14 14:00:35

X post.

Kemmo Thu 20-Feb-14 14:06:24

Am shock at the OP's rudeness!

MrsBryan Thu 20-Feb-14 14:06:48

Well that's good then, I am glad I am not obliged to answe them if they asked me - thank you for clarifying that.

Once again it is my decision to continue doing a physical job while pregnant rather than loosing my maternity pay.

What do I say if they ask me though? I suppose I will just have to deny it, I hope they don't put me in that position though.

RedToothBrush Thu 20-Feb-14 14:41:12

You know if you change job, now and intend to TTC in April, you could end up in a situation where you have LESS rights than you do now.

But hey ho. You know better than everyone who is well meaning and TRYING TO HELP WHILST GETTING IT RUDELY THROWN BACK IN THEIR FACE.

HTH.

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