Paid maternity leave entitlement on fixed term contract query

(7 Posts)
JadeEmeraldGreen Wed 07-Mar-18 21:16:19

Sorry, I know this has probably been done to death but it’s another ‘maternity leave entitlement on fixed term contract’ one.

I’m currently 5 months into a 12 month contract, started in October 2017. Today at a team meeting we were told contracts will be extended to October 2019 (so an additional 12 months) in the first instance.

For permanent staff the maternity leave policy is: “If you have 67 weeks service or more by the expected week of birth you are entitled to (name of academic institution where I work) Maternity Pay which is 18 weeks at full pay (i.e. calculated before any salary sacrifice has been made), followed by 21 weeks at the Statutory Maternity Pay, followed by a maximum of 13 weeks unpaid leave.”

If we were to start trying for a baby this autumn/winter, let’s say it happens first go so I’d be due in July/August/Sept 2019, would I still be entitled to full pay maternity from employer beyond October 2019 if the contract was not renewed/extended past then?

I guess what I’m trying to ask is if it was ‘end of the road’ for this job during my maternity leave would I be classed as no longer employed by them after this date and therefore no longer entitled to anything remaining of the 18 weeks full pay?

Another question is, surely they wouldn’t even extend the contract of someone who is not actually there (due to being on mat leave)? Or would that be discrimination?

Apologies, totally clueless about entitlements for contractors as I’ve always had perm roles up until last year. 36 soon and don’t want to leave trying for much longer, DP has an OK salary but we’d struggle with his and me on just SMP. Plus in an ideal world I’d like to know I had a job to go back to, the thought of looking for a new one with a baby under 1 fills me with horror!

All of the above wishful thinking I’m able to get pregnant however!

OP’s posts: |
flowery Wed 07-Mar-18 22:05:19

”I guess what I’m trying to ask is if it was ‘end of the road’ for this job during my maternity leave would I be classed as no longer employed by them after this date and therefore no longer entitled to anything remaining of the 18 weeks full pay?”

If your contract ends you wouldn’t be employed, no, and no they wouldn’t pay enhanced maternity pay to an ex employee. You’d still get SMP though. Does their enhanced pay not come with conditions about having to come back to work afterwards otherwise having to repay it? That’s what usually happens, in which case you’d probably end up having to pay all the enhanced element back anyway, unless your contract is extended again.

In reference to your other question, no they couldn’t refuse to extend your contract because of maternity leave, they have to treat you the same as if you weren’t pregnant.

Bellamuerte Wed 07-Mar-18 22:17:22

If your contract ends they aren't obliged to pay you anything, including maternity pay. You could claim maternity pay up to the end date of your contract, but as Flowery said, they may find a way to claw it back.

The official reason for not extending your contract can't be because of pregnancy, but they will come up with some other non-pregnancy excuse and deny that the real reason is because you're pregnant. I was in a similar situation, and of course the reason for not renewing my contract wasn't because I was pregnant... it was just a coincidence that I told them I was pregnant at 8.30am and at 1pm they told me they couldn't renew my contract even though up until that point it was due to be renewed...

JadeEmeraldGreen Wed 07-Mar-18 22:26:14

That's helpful thanks, i'm probably getting into too many finer details at this point in time but...

Say I'm ready to start maternity leave in July 2019 (returning July 2020) but as far as i'm aware at that time the contract is due to run out in October 2019.

Would they would only be able to fill my post temporarily if it was extended (or even better, made perm); as in they couldn't end it and then recruit someone else to do it? Given i've said i'd be back in July 2020?

I guess they could and i'd have no way of proving if it was because of my performance or the fact I was costing them money but not actually working. I guess it depends when it all happens, if i'm out of the 'full pay' mat leave period I wouldn't be costing them money directly as i'd be on SMP? They're an excellent employer so very much doubt they terminate contracts because they work out how much it will cost them to keep someone on mat leave as an employee versus ending the contract and hiring a replacement, but you never know!

OP’s posts: |
JadeEmeraldGreen Wed 07-Mar-18 22:29:04

Thanks Bellamuerte I didn't read your response until I posted my latest message - so I guess there's a high risk someone on a fixed term contract could wind up unemployed during mat leave, despite saying they had plans to come back (assuming their contract was renewed)?

That's rough from 8.30am to 1pm to be told they weren't renewing!

OP’s posts: |
Bellamuerte Thu 08-Mar-18 13:18:31

@JadeEmeraldGreen My employer had previously said they were renewing my fixed term contract, but when I told them I was pregnant they suddenly realised they didn't have enough work to continue employing me hmm

After my contract had ended and I had left, I found out they immediately employed someone else to do my job. I complained and was told that after I left more students had enrolled than they were expecting, so it turned out they did have enough work to employ someone after all! But they weren't obliged to employ me. I checked with a solicitor and there was nothing I could do - the employer was legally allowed to let my fixed term contract expire then employ someone else on a new fixed term contract, they weren't obliged to offer the contract to me.

Moral of the story: don't tell them you're pregnant until your contract has been renewed and signed on the dotted line so they can't wriggle out of it!

Bellamuerte Thu 08-Mar-18 13:57:29

Forgot to say I had not yet started maternity leave when my contract expired and was due to be renewed, so I didn't have the protection that would be afforded to a woman in your situation who is already on maternity leave at the time the contract expires/renews.

While it's true that SMP costs the employer nothing as they claim it back from the government, your maternity still has a cost in terms of time lost due to morning sickness or absence for hospital appointments, sick leave if you have a difficult pregnancy, being unable to lift heavy items or stand for long periods, the cost of recruiting and training a replacement, and the potential hassle of you coming back to work and not being willing to work overtime or wanting to go part-time, etc. Hence why some employers try every trick in the book to legally get rid of pregnant women.

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