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Can work force you to start maternity leave on your intended maternity leave date if you have been signed off sick?

(16 Posts)
AlmondFrangipani Sun 14-Apr-13 11:57:55

Just after some advice. I've been told that I'm having my baby early (34 weeks ish) due to a pre existing medical condition. I'm due to go on annual leave during weeks 30-31 of pregnancy. If I get signed off around then can I stay off until 36 weeks without using my maternity leave even if my intended mat leave start date is before 36 weeks? Thanks!

lotsofcheese Sun 14-Apr-13 12:00:21

You can be signed off sick till your baby is born, but your mat leave will start the day after, no matter what stage you are at.

mrsmalcolmreynolds Sun 14-Apr-13 12:04:02

They can insist you start mat leave after a certain point (can't remember exactly when but pretty sure 30/31 weeks would be late enough) if you're off for health reasons related to the pregnancy. However, the idea of that is that you go on mat leave not sick leave. I can't see why an employer would insist on you using mat leave instead of annual leave.

However, you have to start official mat leave no later than when the baby arrives, which would be 34 weeks for you. No one has any discretion about that.

IDontDoIroning Sun 14-Apr-13 12:14:14

If you are on the sick at (I think) 36 weeks pg your mat leave will start at that date.
If you have the baby early ie before your planned start date, your mat leave will start.

AuntieStella Sun 14-Apr-13 12:18:38

If you have set a Mat Leave start date, you will go on to Mat Leave on that date, even if you are on sick leave for your final "working" days.

If you deliver early, your Mat Leave starts immediately irrespective of any other date set. I can't remember the timing when an employer can make you start Mat Leave early if (and only if the absence is caused by a pg related condition). It used to be 29 weeks, but I think it's 36 now.

I think it might make sense to leave your planned start date where it is, and see what happens.

I hope you stay well, and this contingency fact finding isn't needed.

quertas Sun 14-Apr-13 13:17:42

I think it differs from institution to institution. My work's policy is that if a member of staff is absent from work due (crucially) to a pregnancy related illness during the four weeks before the expected week of childbirth maternity leave will automatically start regardless of the date the leave was actually due to start. If on the other hand it wasn't pregnancy related then presumably it wouldn't. You'd need to check the details of your workplace policy.

Gales Sun 14-Apr-13 13:38:04

If you are off sick with a pregnancy related illness, your ML starts automatically 4 weeks before your DD (unless you are already on ML). If the illness is not PG related, then nothing changes.


I believe you have to give 8 weeks notice if you wish to change the start date, but I can't find anything to confirm and that might be your return to work date.

MajaBiene Sun 14-Apr-13 13:45:20

Your Maternity Leave will start the day the baby is born, regardless of when you book it for (e.g. if the baby is born at 34 weeks, you can't start your maternity leave at 36 weeks).

If you are off work after 36 weeks with a pregnancy related condition, then you can be forced to start ML early.

If I understand you correctly, you are on AL 30-31 weeks. You could then get signed off from 31-34 weeks, and start your ML when the baby is born. You couldn't have the baby at 34 weeks and delay ML for an extra 2 weeks though.

AlmondFrangipani Sun 14-Apr-13 16:00:22

Thanks for the comments. I'm in a dilemma as work have put my intended start of mat leave just after my holiday (week 32). However if my health is holding up they may let me go to 36 weeks rather than 34 weeks. Ideally I don't want to use up my mat leave for a month unnecessarily, hence wondering whether I can go on sick leave instead. What don't know is if you are down to start mat leave on xx date but are off on sick leave if you can stay on sick leave, and not mat leave until the baby comes or 36 weeks (whichever is sooner)?

AuntieStella Sun 14-Apr-13 16:26:00

They would be acting illegally - I've looked it up eg here and they cannot start your maternity leave earlier than 36 weeks. Now, it used to be earlier so perhaps II's someone well-intentioned but out of date. Perhaps you need to point out the current regulations?

MajaBiene Sun 14-Apr-13 16:58:24

Why are they telling you when you can go on maternity leave?

Why not have your maternity leave start at 38 weeks, get signed off at 32 weeks, then if the baby comes before that or you are still off sick at 36 weeks start then.

Christelle2207 Sun 14-Apr-13 17:24:55

As far as I am aware, your mat leave will kick on automatically day or poss day after baby comes. Are you having elcs? If so at least you can plan. You won't be able to sue up either annual leave or sick leave when baby has been born.

Christelle2207 Sun 14-Apr-13 17:25:07

Use up!!

AlmondFrangipani Sun 14-Apr-13 18:56:08

Thanks! Maja that is exactly what I was hoping to do. I am going to ask to change my intended start date to 38 weeks. I had originally asked for this but they confirmed something else. I think it is because I have been open about my medical condition so rather than going with what I put on my form they have put that down themselves.

KirstyJC Sun 14-Apr-13 19:01:56

Have you told them when you intend to start your Maternity Leave yet? It is for you to tell them, not them to tell you.

You can only be made to go on ML due to pregnancy related sickness at 36 weeks and no earlier.

In your situation I would tell them you are going on Maternity Leave at 36 weeks, then if you need to be off sick before then you will be on sick leave, not maternity leave. If you have the baby before 36 weeks then your ML will start then and it won't matter at all that you put then for the intended start.

Don't let them tell you when you are going on ML - it isn't up to them!

elfycat Sun 14-Apr-13 19:11:09

You start maternity as soon as the baby is born even if it is early.

The 36 week thing is that if you are off sick for a pregnancy related issue (not because you have a cold) your employer can staet maternity leave.

If you've used up your annual leave you could be off sick until the baby is born, but then your employer would probably follow guidelines and start maternity.


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