The Employment department have been receiving enquiries regarding the Coronavirus and Employment Law entitlements, and one area which has been frequently asked is on maternity pay and sick pay. Below is an example of a question frequently asked.
Q: I am 28 weeks pregnant. My employer has told me to stay at home but doesn’t intend to pay me. I was due to start maternity leave in 6 weeks. I am worried that I won’t now qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). My employer has also told me I won’t accrue holidays whilst I am at home due to the virus.
A: If you have been earning at least £118 per week you should be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) whilst you are at home, from day 1, even if you are not sick yourself. The current rate is £94.25. Entitlement to SMP is based on what you earn in the period up to the 15th week before your baby is due. If you have earned enough (at least £118 per week) during that period you should still receive SMP from your employer even if they stop paying you or move you on to SSP now. You can check your entitlement here: https://www.gov.uk/pay-leave-for-parents
It’s possible you could argue you were medically suspended by your employer in which case you should receive full pay. At this early stage it’s not clear what view an Employment Tribunal would take of that and it would probably seek to balance the interests of the employer and employee in this unusual situation.
A failure to pay SMP if you have qualified for it would be pregnancy discrimination and would give rise to several claims you could pursue in the Employment Tribunal.
Practically speaking, if your employer refuses to pay SMP you need to contact DWP regarding Maternity Allowance so you have some income. https://www.gov.uk/maternity-allowance
You remain employed throughout this period so you will continue to accrue paid holiday as usual, based on the hours you would normally work.
Any employee or employer who has any questions regarding Coronavirus and Employment Law should contact us and book an appointment. You can choose to have an appointment via the telephone and not visit the office.
Contact us on:
Sheffield: Tel: 0114 249 66 66
Barnsley: Tel: 0122 680 51 90
Rotherham: Tel: 0170 936 40 00