Mat leave - discriminatory policy?

(23 Posts)
TheGreaterGood Tue 16-Feb-16 12:05:14

I've posted this in pregnancy but I thought you lovelies might be able to help too:

I've been told at work that I have to take a pro-rata'd amount of holiday prior to my mat leave starting and that I cannot tag holiday onto my mat leave i.e if my holiday entitlement is 30 days a year and my mat leave starts in July, I have to have taken 15 days of holiday in advance of mat leave starting and cannot save it up and add it on to extend my leave.

However, I've been told my other sources that this is not legal and is effectively discriminating against me because I am pregnant i.e. I should be able to take my leave whenever I want (within reason) the same as anyone else.

Anyone had any experience or know what's right? I don't want to create an issue at work but this is important to us since we cannot afford to go away before the baby comes and DH is working every hour to get new business set up so cannot be 'off' with me. Tagging my leave on would make the most sense for us financially.

Thanks wise ones! smile

Ellypoo Tue 16-Feb-16 12:17:53

It isn't discriminatory for employers to request that your annual leave is used in this way, however you continue to accrue holiday while you are on maternity to leave, so what happens with that?

It is fine for them to request that you take your accrued leave prior to starting your maternity leave, especially if your maternity leave straddles your leave year.

You could break up early and have a few weeks of holiday before your maternity leave (and pay) starts in.

TheGreaterGood Tue 16-Feb-16 12:33:19

Ah, thanks Elly - that's where I think they're being cheeky. I've been told that I cannot break up early using my holiday but I have to use it in advance!

PrimalLass Tue 16-Feb-16 12:38:05

I'm guessing you can't tag all your holiday on to the end because it will be in a new holiday year?

TheGreaterGood Tue 16-Feb-16 12:54:33

Yes that's right Elly - I can add my accrued holiday from the next period on to the end...but I've also been told a story about not legally being allowed to be off work for more than one year so holiday needs to be within that 1 year period too...does that sound like BS? Soooo confused!

Ellypoo Tue 16-Feb-16 12:56:36

That does sound like BS yes - people often tag leave on to the start & end of the full 12 month mat leave so can end up with closer to 14 months off.

flowery Tue 16-Feb-16 19:47:25

You accrue holiday as usual during your maternity leave, but as long as they don't prevent you taking it at all, they can require you to take it at certain times, or refuse a request from you just as they can for any other member of staff who wants to take holiday at an inconvenient time.

lougle Tue 16-Feb-16 20:08:02

Flowery, I agree with you, but if the sole reason for saying that the OP must do this with her holiday is because she is pregnant (ie. They have no objection to non-pregnant employees taking a long block of holiday at one time of their choosing) does that not then become discrimination in the grounds of pregnancy?

flowery Tue 16-Feb-16 20:27:49

It sounds as though the OP's holiday year runs January to December and she gets 30 days a year. She is saying she wants to save all or at least a big chunk of the 15 days she will have accrued and carry it over to the following holiday year, along with the 15 days she will accrue in the second half of the year and more holiday she will accrue next holiday year while still on maternity leave.

If the employer allows other members of staff to carry over weeks and weeks of holiday to the next holiday year but forbids maternity leavers from doing so I would have some sympathy with the discrimination argument.

But of course they don't allow that. Apart from anything else it would be unlawful for them to allow that. According to the Working Time Directive employees must physically take 4 weeks of paid leave a year (and can carry over anything over and above that subject to employer rules.

Insisting employees have taken at least holiday that has already been accrued before they go is perfectly sensible. OP will accrue loads more holiday while she is off on maternity leave- up to a full year's worth if she takes a year off- and having excessive amounts to take upon return can be difficult for employers to manage.

TheGreaterGood Tue 16-Feb-16 20:58:51

Hi flowery - thanks for the info. Just to clarify though, I'm not wanting to carry holiday over into the holiday year, just use all or most of the holiday from this holiday year at the start of my mat leave. But I'm being told I can't do that's and that I have to have used the pro rata'd amount for the year up to the start of my mat leave, in advance. Although now I'm not sure what they're proposing I do with the other 15 days (I can only take 5 days over). Confused now! Think I need another meeting. Ideally I'd like to add most of this year's holiday allowance to the start and some of next year's to the end of my mat leave.

flowery Tue 16-Feb-16 21:11:33

Didn't sound like that at all from your OP! So you want to take more than the 15 days, not less?

As long as you can tack the remaining leave on to the end of your maternity leave what difference does it actually make?

TheGreaterGood Tue 16-Feb-16 21:30:30

Good point - think I've got myself confused and in a tizz over my own nothing...can I claim baby brain?

lougle Tue 16-Feb-16 21:34:03

So can I clarify, TheGreaterGood? Are you saying that you have a leave entitlement of, say 30 days, but will only have accrued around half of it prior to Mat leave. So you'd like to take the whole of your year's holiday in a block, but they're saying you must use what you've accrued up before you start Mat leave?

Fizrim Tue 16-Feb-16 21:41:03

Your employer is right in either situation. You can take the holiday that you have accrued to date (to the date you are due to go on ML) and the holiday that you accrue during ML you should be able to add on to the end.

madamginger Tue 16-Feb-16 21:48:28

I think your employer is right. When I had dc3 I had to use my 4 weeks accrued holiday before my mat leave, and I then carried on accruing the rest when I was off, as I went over 2 holiday years they paid me the rest as I wasn't allowed to carry it over. I then had to take 2 weeks on the other end to use up holidays from the next year. I ended up taking 11 months off as a mix of holiday and mat leave.
I do get 7 weeks paid holidays though.

TrashPanda Tue 16-Feb-16 21:53:47

The way I have read it is.

You have leave year 1 from Jan to Dec and leave year 2 from Jan to Dec each with 30 days holiday. You want to take Mat leave from July to July straddling leave years 1 and 2. When you go on Mat leave in July you will have accrued 15 days of holiday but your company have said they must be taken during Jan to June of leave year 1 and cannot be used in a block at the start of your Mat leave. You will accrue another 15 days from both leave year 1 and 2 whilst on leave which they are saying you can tack onto the end of Mat leave.

Artistic Tue 16-Feb-16 22:11:28

Your employer is in some ways right and wrong. You can't actually BE on annual leave when you deliver the baby. You will have to start your ML on (if not sooner) your due date. Can't be later.
However most organisations (and I don't know the legal word on this) should allow you to 'carry forward' your accrued leave to next year. Ie if you have 15 days accrued at the start of ML and they would have naturally had another 4 months (for example) to be used then these ideally should be preserved until you return from maternity and then you need to use them within 4 months. So what this means is your maternity year does not affect the 'validity period' of your leave.

Last year I carried forward 20 such days at the start of my ML. My employer was ok but said I need to use these ASAP when I return from ML. I had 3 months to use them (same validity as pre ML). I accrued another 20 days during ML. So I had 40 days leave that I used immediately after ML and effectively got 14 months ML.

TrashPanda Tue 16-Feb-16 22:46:53

I did sort of what I think you've been told you can't. My holiday year is from Feb to March and my due date was end of March. I finished work mid Feb and used 2 weeks of holiday until end of Feb from one year. Then I used 2 weeks of holiday from next year then started Mat leave mid March. If baby had been born on due date I would have finished work 5 weeks prior, 4 were holiday and 1 mat leave. I then used my remaning 4 weeks holiday at the end of my Mat leave so I could go back after Christmas.

TheGreaterGood Wed 17-Feb-16 08:42:36

Wow - this is all more complicated than I thought! Trash and lougle - you've got the situation right...I've been told that I have to have used the 15 days accrued from year 1 before mat leave starts and that I'm not able to tack it on. However they haven't told me what happens to the second 15 days from year 1 - can I tack those on at the start, do I get paid them or can I carry them over and tack them on the end - I need to ask the question as the usual policy is that you can only carry over 5 days. I guess as long as I can tack the days on either at the start or end and don't lose them it's all good. This was all in an informal chat - I need a proper meeting! I think so I have all the info! Thanks for your help everyone - I shall go in somewhat better informed now. smile

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Wed 17-Feb-16 08:56:35

Maybe they can't afford to start your ML cover person till just before your ML starts and want you to be there, not on holiday, to do the handover? How far in advance have they said thry want you to use up the holiday?

lougle Wed 17-Feb-16 12:46:59

"If a worker can’t take all of their leave entitlement because they’re already on a different type of leave (eg sick, maternity or parental leave), they can carry over some or all of the untaken leave into the next leave year.

An employer must allow a worker to carry over a maximum of 20 of their 28 days’ leave entitlement if the worker couldn’t take annual leave because they were off sick." www.gov.uk/holiday-entitlement-rights/calculate-leave-entitlement

Osirus Sun 21-Feb-16 11:14:23

I start maternity leave end of May (due in June). Prior to that, I am taking nearly six weeks holiday. Just because I am taking maternity leave half way through the year, I still get my entire annual leave allowance and accrue all bank holidays I will miss throughout the year. They legally have to do this as you are still employed. They are not allowed to withhold work benefits just because you are on maternity leave. My employer had no problem granting my annual leave request to tag it on to the beginning of my maternity leave.

TiredButFineODFOJ Tue 23-Feb-16 00:42:48

Sorry to chime in on a downer, but there's a number of reasons why most employers don't want you to use a whole year's leave/more than you have accrued before maternity leave.
One simple one is that it means you have some leave at the other side of your maternity (all employers should allow a carry over, the 5 days stated for normsl carry over is ignored for maternity) this is helpful if you want to use it during the nil pay part of your mat leave, or if you want to phase back into your normal hours.
You could just quit, and then you might not pay the leave back. All kinds of circumstances might change which mean you return to work sooner, or not at all.
Just ask your employer what other women normally do with the 15 or so days leave they accrue on mat leave, I'm sure HR will have an idea of what normally happens.

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