Maternity Rights and Pay [Video]

Posted in : Back to Basics on 24 May 2016
Andrew Spratt
A&L Goodbody
Issues covered:

In Northern Ireland there are comparatively generous maternity rights for pregnant workers. The two main rights that I want to look at today are maternity leave and maternity pay.

Following the birth of a child, a mother has the absolute right to 52 weeks of leave. There's a compulsory 2 week period after the birth of her child and then a further 50 weeks of leave. There is ordinary maternity leave which is for six months and then additional maternity leave which is for the final six months.


During those periods of leave there are protections in place for a mother. There is the ability to return to the same job if she returns after ordinary maternity leave and return to the same job, unless it's not reasonably practical for her to do so, following additional maternity leave.

Moving on to pay then, additional maternity pay is payable for 39 weeks during the period of maternity leave. If a mother has been engaged by her employer for 6 months before the 15th week, before her expected week of childbirth, then she's entitled to receive statutory maternity pay. Otherwise if she's not in that position, she's able to receive maternity allowance.

The pay which is in place is pay for 39 weeks which is broken down into 6 weeks at 90% of her normal pay and then a further 33 weeks at £139.58. If she's in the fortunate position that there are contractual entitlements which are over and above the statutory minimum, those contractual entitlements take precedence. There's no double recovery on those payments.

In order for her to be able to get the benefits which are available to her, she needs to confirm with her employer the date on which she wants to commence her maternity leave and the length that she intends to take. She's also required to complete a MATB1 form, and that's to be provided not less than 15 weeks before the expected week of confinement. This will, of course, start earlier if the baby arrives earlier or if she's prevented by illness be able to attend the workplace in the four weeks before the end of her pregnancy.

On the same point on health, I wanted to just touch on that there is the right for a pregnant worker to attend antenatal classes between 7 and 10 times during her pregnancy. Also, her partner has the right to attend two antenatal classes of a maximum of six-and-a-half hours per visit.

This article is correct at 24/05/2016

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Andrew Spratt
A&L Goodbody

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