Do you know your rights regarding maternity rights and holidays? I am regularly asked this question by both employees and employers.
Legislation states that all contractual terms (except pay) survive during both ordinary maternity leave (OML) and additional maternity leave (AML). Women are therefore entitled to accrue statutory and contractual leave while on maternity leave.
If they can't take all the leave they're entitled to during a particular year, they can carry it over to the following year. Many employers allow employees to add all of their annual leave on to the beginning or end of the maternity period. It is good practice to discuss leave arrangements as soon as possible with a pregnant employee and discuss what they want to do with regards their leave.
According to the strict wording of the Working Time Regulations 1998, women on maternity leave may lose some of their holiday entitlement if their leave extends into a new leave year. The contract of employment may also limit the carrying over of contractual holiday. However for a woman to lose her statutory holiday entitlement in this way, simply through the taking of maternity leave, would be discriminatory.
In addition, employers often identify particular days on which all workers must take paid leave. These include school holidays, Christmas shutdowns and bank holiday closures. This can cause those on maternity, adoption and paternity leave to fear that they are losing out on paid leave.
The general rule is that terms related to "remuneration" are suspended during maternity, adoption and paternity leave. There does not appear to be any reason why holiday pay would be any different to other forms of "remuneration". Workers may therefore lose out on contractual paid leave as a result of compulsory shutdown during maternity, adoption or paternity leave. However, the right to statutory annual leave is preserved.
It is important that both employers and employees know their rights during this period and in order to do so it is essential that the lines of communication are open between them. By having these discussions early on, parties are able to plan and employers can prepare for the period in which the employee is on maternity leave, and the employee can plan her leave accordingly.
If you have any employment law queries, get in touch with our experienced employment team.