In the past we topped up maternity benefit (to the level of normal pay) for staff on maternity leave. However, due to financial constraints we have informed staff that we will not be doing this in the future. A staff member’s representative has written to us stating that this is in contravention of the Equality Act in England and Wales on the grounds that this cost saving measure disproportionately impacts on staff members due to family status. Is this true?

Posted in : First Tuesday Q&A NI on 5 November 2013
Emma-Jane Flannery
Arthur Cox

Making any changes to maternity pay has the potential to give rise to claims for discrimination on grounds of sex or pregnancy. Assuming matters relate to the jurisdiction of England and Wales (as opposed to Northern Ireland), however, the employer should seek to address the following questions:-

Is the employer acting within the minimum requirements as guaranteed by statute?

In England and Wales, all employers must pay Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) during the first 39 weeks of maternity leave. This is 90% of the employee’s average gross weekly earnings during the first 6 weeks followed by the

Already a subscriber?

Click here to login and access the full article.

Don't miss out, start your free trial today!

Are you fully aware of the benefits of Legal-Island's Employment Law Update Service? We help hundreds of people like you understand how the latest changes in employment law impact on your business.

Help understand the ramifications of each important case from NI, GB and Europe

24/7 access to all the content in the Legal Island Vault for research case law and HR issues

Ensure your organisation’s policies and procedures are fully compliant with NI law

Receive free preliminary advice on workplace issues from Maxine Orr, Partner at Worthingtons Solicitors

Already a subscriber, now or Start my free trial today

Back to Q&A's This article is correct at 02/09/2015

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.

Emma-Jane Flannery
Arthur Cox

The main content of this article was provided by Emma-Jane Flannery. Contact telephone number is 028 9023 0007 or email

View all articles by Emma-Jane Flannery