9 things to know about the Maternity Protection Act
Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash.
Are you pregnant and working?* Here are nine things you need to know:
1. You have the right to 14 weeks maternity leave*
Under the Maternity Protection Act, pregnant employees who are continuously employed for over 12 months are entitled to 14 weeks maternity leave*.
This maternity leave must be separate/in addition to any vacation and sick leave to which that employee is eligible (S19).
*Applies to women continuously employed for over 12 months, that is, a daily rated employee employed for an aggregate (combined total) of 150 working days in a 12-month period.
2. You have the right to time off for prenatal doctor’s visits, with pay
According to Section 7(4) of the Act:
“An employee who is pregnant and who has, on the written advice of a qualified person, made an appointment to attend at any place for the purpose of receiving prenatal medical care shall, subject to this Act, have the right not to be unreasonably refused time off during her working hours to enable her to keep the appointment.”
Under S7(5) pregnant employees who attend doctor’s visits are also to be paid for that period of absence.
3. You have the right to pay while on maternity leave
Section 7(1)(b) of the Act states an employee is entitled to pay while on maternity leave.
Under S9(2) of the Act employees are entitled to receive pay “to an amount equivalent to one month’s leave with full pay and two months’ leave with half pay”.
S9(3) says where her pay and the sum received from the National Insurance Board (NIB) is less than her full pay during the period, the employer shall pay the difference to the employee.
If the employer has not paid the requisite contributions under the National Insurance Act, the employer must pay the employee the sum she would have been entitled to (S9(4)).
If the child dies at birth or within the period of maternity leave, mothers are entitled to the remaining period of maternity leave with pay.
An employee who does not go on maternity leave and has a premature birth is also entitled to the full period of maternity leave with pay (S7(3)(a)).
If the mother did not take maternity leave but has a premature birth and the child dies at birth or any time within the fourteen weeks thereafter, the employee is entitled to the “full or remaining period of maternity leave with pay, as the case may be” (Section 7(3)(b)).
4. You have the right to return to the same position after maternity leave
Under Section 7(1)(c), an employee is entitled to resume work after maternity leave “on terms no less favourable than were enjoyed by her immediately prior to her leave”.
5. You can take maternity leave up to six weeks before your due date
S9(1) of the Act states that mothers-to-be can go on leave six weeks prior to ‘confinement’ (childbirth) as per a medical certificate, or at a date at the employee’s discretion.
6. You’re entitled to 12 weeks medical leave
Under Section 10 of the Act, if the employee has medical complications she can take up to 12 weeks medical leave (S10(2)) once she has submitted a certificate from a registered medical practitioner indicating her inability to return to work (S10(1)) and the date of return.
Under Section 10(3), employees who extend their absence due to medical reasons after childbirth shall be paid half day for the first six weeks and no pay for the next six weeks (subject to the employee’s right to sick or vacation leave with pay under any other written law, industrial award or collective agreement).
Additionally, an employee may postpone her return to work for non-medical reasons for up to four weeks after her date of return, once she notifies her employer via written notice within 10 working days before her required date of return, stating the reasons why and her intended date of return (S10(4)).
However the employer is not required to pay for this additional non-medical leave (S10(5)).
7. If fired while pregnant, you have the right to legal redress
Under Section 12(1) of the Act:
“Where an employee or employer alleges noncompliance with the provisions of this Act, or an employee’s employment is terminated on the ground of pregnancy or on any ground relating to pregnancy, or there is a difference of opinion as to the reasonableness or otherwise of any action taken or not taken by an employer or employee, the employee, trade union or the employer may report the matter to the Minister and the matter shall be deemed to be a trade dispute and shall be dealt with as such under the Industrial Relations Act.”
Additionally, employers must keep records (S13) and must disclose details regarding the terms and conditions of the employee when requested by the Ministry (S14).
Find out more about the Conciliation Unit of the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development here: https://bit.ly/2SCBlkH or call (868) 299-0300 Ext 2124.
8. You cannot be overlooked for promotion because of your pregnancy
Under Section 20 of the Act, “An employee on maternity leave shall not be deprived of an opportunity to be considered for promotion for which she is eligible and which may arise during her period of leave.”
9. You may be eligible for a Maternity Benefit/Special Maternity Grant
The National Insurance Maternity Benefit is paid to insured women who are away from work as a result of pregnancy.
The benefit is comprised of a weekly payment of a Maternity Allowance (to a maximum of 14 weeks paid in a lump sum) and a Maternity Grant of $3,750.00.
The benefit is not paid if a pregnancy has lasted less than 26 weeks unless the pregnancy resulted in a live birth. You may, however, be entitled to sickness benefit.
For more information on the Maternity Benefit see here: https://bit.ly/2K8wHXd
Alternatively, if you are married or in a common-law relationship, you may be able to apply for a Special Maternity Grant, which extends coverage to persons who would not qualify for a maternity benefit.
It is a grant payable to the spouse (whether she is employed, underemployed or unemployed) of an insured man where that spouse is unable to qualify for the Maternity Benefit in her own right.
The woman must be the legal spouse or be deemed the common law spouse of the insured man.
For more information on the Special Maternity Grant see here: https://bit.ly/2qfmsK2
To read the Maternity Protection Act in full see here: https://bit.ly/2QNEZfq