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Pregnant After Career Break: What Are My Maternity Rights?

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 8 Feb 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Career Break Career Break Maternity

Q.

I had my first baby in April last year with maternity leave from my job until December. I then took a 12 month career break from my employer which ends this December. I have just found out I am pregnant again and the baby is due at the beginning of February, just over one month after my career break ends! Where do I stand regarding maternity entitlement, pay etc?

(A.S, 15 June 2009)

A.

Congratulations on your happy news! It must be very nice knowing that you are about to add to a very quickly growing family, and that you have been able to take time out to spend with your first child during his or her first year, and hopefully with your second child as well.

The good news is that your career break will have no negative effect as far as continuous service, benefits and other entitlements are concerned. The rule is simple: women who become pregnant while on their career break have the same employment rights that women who become pregnant while not on a career break have.

However, unfortunately you will not qualify for SMP, or Standard Maternity Pay, although you may qualify for Company Maternity pay, depending entirely on the goodwill of your employer. Reason: SMP is calculated on your last 15 weeks of earnings before the EWC, or Expected Week of Childbirth. If during the last 15 weeks you were on a career break earning nothing, you would not qualify to receive the cash.

The rationale behind this is fairly straightforward. Your employer has had to hire someone to cover you when you have been away, which has cost them money, and they will not be able to claim your SMP back from the government, which would cost them even more money. It's a business decision, and one you can't do much about. You may, however, still qualify for maternity allowance, which will be roughly £100 a week for 39 weeks and is not subject to National Insurance or tax.

In any case, you should notify your boss or immediate supervisor immediately and tell them your news. Your career break will be suspended when you begin maternity leave, and if you want to resume the career break, that will be up to you and your boss. In your case, however, you would no doubt start maternity leave just as your career break finishes.

If there are complications with the pregnancy and you need to start maternity leave earlier – say two months before your career break would officially end – this is something you would also have to take up with your boss. Keep in mind that regardless of what happens with your career break, you may return to work after you have your baby, your holiday will still accrue while you are on maternity leave.

One possible solution to get more entitlements may be to postpone finishing your career break, meaning you would return back to work earlier than planned in order to qualify for full SMP and Company Maternity Pay. You would have to speak to your boss, immediate supervisor or HR manager to see if that could be a possibility for you, as this is also something that would be up to them. Good luck!

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Jill J - Your Question:
HelloI had a maternity leave from Fri 19 August 2015 and continued it with unpaid leave to 30 June 2016.I returned to work on 1st July 2016 until 21 Aug 2016.I then started my career break on 22 Aug 2016 and am due to return on 21 August 2017. However I am due my second child on 29th July 2017.My questions are:- do I need to take a career break or can I take maternity leave?- if I can take maternity leave, I assume I won't get any pay, but will the 6(?) months be added to my inservice years worked?- if I can take maternity leave can I take unpaid leave for the rest of the year and then start another career break after it? In other words, does my maternity leave stop my career break? Many thanks for your help.Jill

Our Response:
Sorry we really don't know. Your HR department should be able to help you with this.
ACareerBreak - 10-Feb-17 @ 2:31 PM
Hello I had a maternity leave from Fri 19 August 2015 and continued it with unpaid leave to 30 June 2016. I returned to work on 1st July 2016 until 21 Aug 2016. I then started my career break on 22 Aug 2016 and am due to return on 21 August 2017. However I am due my second child on 29th July 2017. My questions are: - do I need to take a career break or can I take maternity leave? - if I can take maternity leave, I assume I won't get any pay, butwill the 6(?) months be added to my inservice years worked? - if I can take maternity leave can I take unpaid leave for the rest of the year and then start another career break after it? In other words, does my maternity leave stop my career break? Many thanks for your help. Jill
Jill J - 8-Feb-17 @ 9:12 PM
Hi - if I may ask what is my best option from the following: After 10-years of service, I began a 1yr sabbatical in January and we are now expecting our first baby in January next year (just 3 weeks before I am due to report back from sabbatical). My employer suspended my benefits but my seniority continues and the company discount is still active (for retail purchases etc.) Can you please help how to protect myself legally and to ensure maternity pay how I should proceed: 1) notify employer of pregnancy and "Hope" they do right thing to allow maternity leave / pay even though not working at 15 weeks prior to birth; 2) notify employer of request to return to work and only then notify of pregnancy (before 15th week of due date) if allowed to return early; or 3) any other suggestions to help with much needed maternity pay? Thank you.
Kalin - 23-Jun-16 @ 10:17 AM
mel - Your Question:
7 years service with employers took 1.5year unpaid sabbatical, due to return to work in 1 month, just found out I am pregnant, will I qualify for maternity pay? Will be back at work at 9 weeks pregnant.

Our Response:
You will have to confirm this with your employer/HR department. In general when you're on a career break you are entitled to statutory maternity pay but the career break may affect the amount of statutory maternity pay you're entitled to.
ACareerBreak - 27-Aug-15 @ 9:38 AM
7 years service with employers took 1.5year unpaid sabbatical, due to return to work in 1 month, just found out I am pregnant, will I qualify for maternity pay? Will be back at work at 9 weeks pregnant.
mel - 24-Aug-15 @ 8:11 PM
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