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The Social Security, Statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Sick Pay (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002

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Explanatory Note

(This note is not part of the Regulations.)

These Regulations amend the Statutory Maternity Pay (General) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1987 (“the Statutory Maternity Pay (General) Regulations”), the Statutory Maternity Pay (Health and Social Services Employees) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1992 (“the Health and Social Services Employees Regulations”), the Statutory Sick Pay (General) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1982 (“the Statutory Sick Pay Regulations”), the Social Security (Maternity Allowance) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1987 (“the Maternity Allowance Regulations”) and the Social Security (Maternity Allowance) (Earnings) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 (“the Maternity Allowance (Earnings) Regulations”), in consequence of the Social Security Act (Northern Ireland) 2002 (c. 10 (N.I.)).

Regulation 2 amends the Statutory Maternity Pay (General) Regulations as follows –

(a)to provide that the maternity pay period (“MPP”) will commence when a woman gives notice to her employer that she expects his liability to pay her statutory maternity pay to begin and she stops work in conformity with that notice;

(b)to extend the MPP to 26 consecutive weeks;

(c)to amend the first week of the MPP for women confined before the 11th week before the expected week of confinement (“EWC”);

(d)to provide that where a woman is absent from work wholly or partly because of pregnancy or confinement, on or after the 4th week before her EWC that her MPP will commence on the day after the first day on which she is so absent;

(e)to provide a new meaning of “week” for the purposes of a woman’s MPP in respect of a woman whose MPP commences because of her confinement before the 11th week before the EWC or her absence from work wholly or partly because of pregnancy or confinement on or after the 4th week before the EWC;

(f)to prescribe a rate of statutory maternity pay under section 162(1)(b) of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits (Northern Ireland) Act 1992;

(g)to omit the reference to a woman’s absence from work being wholly because of her confinement from the notice she must give to her employer;

(h)to amend the period within which a notice is to be given from 21 days from the date of confinement to 28 days from that date;

(i)to provide that if a woman leaves her employment after the beginning of the week before the 14th week before her EWC she will be entitled to statutory maternity pay without giving notice to her employer;

(j)to make minor drafting changes to the requirements for employers to provide information about payments of statutory maternity pay and extend the period within which information must be supplied from 21 to 28 days; and

(k)to make minor drafting changes.

Regulation 3 amends the Health and Social Services Employees Regulations to substitute 28 days for 21 days as the period of notice a woman must give her employer.

Regulation 4 amends the Statutory Sick Pay Regulations to substitute a reference to 4 weeks before the EWC in the case of women who are incapable of work wholly or partly because of pregnancy or confinement as the date on which a period of entitlement to statutory sick pay shall end or not arise.

Regulation 5 amends the Maternity Allowance Regulations to omit regulation 3(2) which previously modified the Maternity Allowance Period (“MAP”) where a woman was confined more than 11 weeks before the EWC and to increase to 26 weeks the MAP for women not entitled before 11 weeks before the EWC who subsequently become entitled before being confined.

Regulation 6 amends the Maternity Allowance (Earnings) Regulations as follows –

(a)to substitute a reference to an amount 90 per cent. of which equals the weekly rate prescribed under section 162(1)(b) of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits (Northern Ireland) Act 1992;

(b)to remove references to average payments;

(c)to specify the test period as the specified period for the purpose of establishing a woman’s average weekly earnings; and

(d)to alter the averaging procedure for payments made or treated as made in the specified period.

Regulations 7 and 8 make transitional provision and consequential revocations.

Sections 35A(5)(c)(i), 160(9)(ea), 161(1) and 162(1)(b) of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits (Northern Ireland) Act 1992, some of the enabling provisions under which these Regulations are made, were brought into operation for the purpose only of authorising the making of regulations on 19th November 2002, by virtue of the Social Security (2002 Act) (Commencement No. 1) Order (Northern Ireland) 2002 (S.R. 2002 No. 351 (C. 28)). As these Regulations are made before the end of the period of 6 months from the commencement date of those provisions, they are, accordingly, exempt, by virtue of section 150(5)(b) of the Social Security Administration (Northern Ireland) Act 1992 (c. 8), from the reference to the Social Security Advisory Committee.

The impact on business of the commencement of these provisions is detailed in the Regulatory Impact Assessment relating to the Social Security Act (Northern Ireland) 2002 (c. 10). Copies of that Assessment may be obtained, free of charge, from the Social Security Policy and Legislation Division, Block 5, Room 5, Stormont Estate, Stormont, Belfast BT4 3SJ.

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