Nautilus has produced a guide to the legal framework surrounding pregnancy, maternity/paternity/parental leave in the UK.
As such it will mainly apply to seafarers serving on UK flagged vessels.
A summary of the rights set out in the guide is as follows:
Employers are required to assess risks to all workers and to do all that is reasonably practicable to control those risks. They also specifically require the employer to take particular account of risks to expectant and new mothers in that risk assessment.
If there is a significant risk at work to the safety and health of a new or expectant mother, which goes beyond the level of risk to be expected outside the workplace, then the actions must be taken to remove her from that risk.
Special consideration must be given to a new or expectant mother who works at night.
Where a seafarer wishes to delay the start of her maternity leave after the 24th week, she should agree with the employer any necessary changes to her duties and her hours of work. The employer must undertake a risk assessment.
It unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a woman due to pregnancy or maternity.
If a pregnant employee has, on the advice of a registered doctor, midwife or nurse, made an appointment for ante–natal care, she is entitled to time off with pay during her working hours to attend the appointment.
Any employee who is pregnant is entitled to ordinary maternity leave (OML), regardless of the period in which she has been in employment. The OML will generally last for 26 weeks.
Any employee who qualifies for OML now qualifies automatically for additional maternity leave (AML). AML runs for 26 weeks, commencing on the day after the last day of the OML. The employee may return to work earlier if she wishes, but she must give her employer at least eight weeks' notice of the date on which she intends to return.
Some employees (but not all) will have the right to statutory maternity pay (SMP). SMP is subject to the employee meeting specific qualifying criteria. The main condition is that she must have been continually employed (whether required to work or not) by her employer for at least 26 weeks ending with the week immediately preceding the 14th week before the expected week of child birth.
If an employee does not qualify for SMP, she may be entitled to Maternity Allowance (MA). MA for 39 weeks is for those who:
- are employed, but do not qualify for SMP
- are self-employed and pay Class 2 National Insurance Contributions (including voluntary payments) for at least 13 of the 66 weeks before the baby is due – the amount of MA will depend on how much Class 2 National Insurance Contributions she has paid
- have recently stopped working.