What rules do I have to fol­low to ensure I am com­ply­ing with ma­ter­nity leave leg­is­la­tion?

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE - Caro­line Mcenery

HAVE an em­ployee who just in­formed me she is preg­nant. She has given me a let­ter from her doctor con­firm­ing her due date is May 25, 2019. I have never had an em­ployee who will be go­ing on ma­ter­nity leave so what ad­vice can you give me to ensure I am com­pli­ant? stand what is ex­pected from both par­ties.

Once the preg­nancy is con­firmed by the med­i­cal cert your em­ployee may take rea­son­able time off for med­i­cal vis­its con­nected with the preg­nancy.

There is no max­i­mum or min­i­mum amount of time off spec­i­fied for these vis­its, it is sim­ply as much time off as is nec­es­sary to at­tend each visit.

Do ask your em­ployee to pro­vide you with med­i­cal ev­i­dence of these ap­point­ments giv­ing two weeks’ no­tice to ensure busi­ness re­quire­ments are met in-house. The em­ployee is en­ti­tled to be paid while keep­ing these med­i­cal ap­point­ments. HEALTH & SAFETY: You have a duty to carry out a risk as­sess­ment with each and ev­ery preg­nant em­ployee you may have in the fu­ture. If there are risks, these should be ei­ther removed if pos­si­ble or the em­ployee moved away from them. START­ING THE LEAVE: Ma­ter­nity leave must com­mence at least two weeks be­fore the end of the ex­pected due date.

For ex­am­ple, if your em­ployee gives you a due date of 25 De­cem­ber, 2019, she will start her ma­ter­nity leave at least two weeks in ad­vance which is De­cem­ber 11, 2019. The last day of work will be De­cem­ber 10, 2018. The statu­tory Ma­ter­nity Leave, given she takes the full en­ti­tle­ment, will be due to end on June 11, 2019. The re­turn to work date is the June 12, 2019. PRE­MA­TURE BIRTH: In the event of an un­for­tu­nate pre­ma­ture birth, ma­ter­nity leave will com­mence im­me­di­ately from the date of birth. The time be­tween the birth and the date of birth as per the orig­i­nal med­i­cal cert will be ad­di­tional to the statu­tory 26 weeks of ma­ter­nity leave for your em­ployee. AD­DI­TIONAL MA­TER­NITY LEAVE: Your em­ployee is en­ti­tled to an ad­di­tional pe­riod of 16 weeks’ leave, af­ter her 26 weeks, which must be taken im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the ma­ter­nity leave 16-week pe­riod.

There is no pay­ment from So­cial Wel­fare dur­ing this 16-week pe­riod. She must in­form you of her in­ten­tion to take such leave no later than four weeks be­fore the end of the ma­ter­nity leave pe­riod.

Given the ex­am­ple above, this would mean she will have to give you no­tice no later than May 14, 2019. If the em­ployee opted to take the ad­di­tional ma­ter­nity leave of 16 weeks’ un­paid, this would com­mence on June 11, 2019 with the fin­ish date Oc­to­ber 1 2019 and the re­turn to work date Oc­to­ber 2, 2019. EM­PLOY­MENT RIGHTS: Your em­ployee will ac­crue an­nual leave and pub­lic hol­i­days, dur­ing ma­ter­nity leave, as if she was still in work. RE­TURN TO WORK: Your em­ployee may re­turn to work at any time from four weeks af­ter the date of birth.

On her re­turn, your team mem­ber has the right to re­turn to work to do the same job, un­der the same con­tract of em­ploy­ment, in the same con­di­tions or not less favourable than be­fore the leave was taken.

If the above is not pos­si­ble or prac­ti­cal she must be of­fered a suit­able al­ter­na­tive un­der a new con­tract. We would urge you to seek best prac­tice ad­vice on this if there is a po­ten­tial that this may oc­cur as ma­ter­nity leave is so highly pro­tected. Caro­line Mcenery, manag­ing direc­tor of The HR Suite is also au­thor of a man­ager’s tool­kit on all Hr-re­lated tips to proac­tively man­age your team

When the preg­nancy is con­firmed, staff may take rea­son­able time off for med­i­cal vis­its

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