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
Arthur Cox
Arthur Cox
Issues covered:

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 standard rate of £136.78 for 33 weeks thereafter (or 90% of the employee’s gross weekly earnings if

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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.

Arthur Cox
Arthur Cox

The main content of this article was provided by Arthur Cox. Contact telephone number is +44 28 9026 2673 or email

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