Understandably, the current situation with COVID-19 is causing a stressful time for expectant mothers and those already on maternity leave. We hope this brief blog provides you with some answers. The information below relates to furlough and your maternity rights.
Firstly, what is furlough?
Furlough is special leave which has been introduced by the Government to help enable employers to retain their staff during the pandemic. Employers can claim 80% of an employee’s wages, up to £2500 per month, under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Furlough is subject to tax and national and you continue to accrue your annual leave during it. If you have more than one job, furlough restrictions apply to each job separately.
You do not have to accept to be placed on furlough but the alternative may result in redundancy.
Am I entitled to furlough whilst on maternity leave?
This is dependent on whether you receive contractual or statutory maternity pay.
You can only apply for furlough if you receive contractual maternity pay which would allow your employer to claim up to 80% of the cost of your contractual maternity pay, up to £2500 per month. You are not entitled to normal ‘remuneration’ during your maternity leave.
I am pregnant and worried about my health and safety, what should I do?
The Government guidance is that all pregnant women should work from home, if possible. Your employer must continue to follow health and safety regulations and consider what risks you may face during your pregnancy.
If you are unable to work from home and there is no other suitable alternative work for you to do, your employer should suspend you on full pay. To simply be suspended without full pay could result in a claim for Unlawful Deductions of Wages.
Alternatively, your employer can put you on furlough and claim 80% of your salary.
Am I treated as unemployed during furlough?
No, you are not to be treated as ‘unemployed’ during furlough. Furlough is special leave. This means you continue to have your normal statutory and contractual rights.
Can I take annual leave if I am placed on furlough?
Yes, you are entitled to take annual leave during your furlough and should receive 100% of your salary, i.e. your employer top up by 20%. In addition, if it is not reasonably practicable for you to take annual leave straightaway, you can carry this over to the next holiday year.
What to do if your maternity leave has come to an end but your office is closed?
It depends on your circumstances but if your employer is closed, you can ask to be placed on furlough. If your colleagues are on furlough, your employer should consider you too. If furlough is refused because you have been on maternity leave, this may be discriminatory and you should seek legal advice.
How can we help?
If you require any further advice, please contact one of our Specialist Employment Law Solicitors on 01522 440512. For more information about Lincs Law Employment Solicitors, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/
Lucy Stones, Specialist Employment Solicitor
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors, Lincoln